Sleep supports the consolidation of new memories. However, this effect has mainly been shown for memories of past events. Here we investigated the role of sleep for the implementation of intentions for the future.
Subjects were instructed on a plan that had to be executed after a delay of 2 days. After plan instruction, subjects were either allowed to sleep or stayed awake for one night (Exp. 1) or had a 3-h sleep period either during the early night (SWS-rich sleep) or late night (REM-rich sleep; Exp. 2). In both experiments, retesting took place 2 days later after one recovery night.
Patients or Participants:
A total of 56 healthy young adults participated in the study.
Measurements and Results:
All of the subjects who were allowed to sleep after plan instruction executed the intention 2 days later, whereas only 61% of wake subjects did so (P = 0.004; Exp. 1). Also after early SWS-rich sleep all of the subjects remembered to execute the intention, but only 55% did so after late REM-rich sleep (P = 0.015; Exp. 2).
Sleep, especially SWS, plays an important role for the successful implementation of delayed intentions.
Diekelmann S; Wilhelm I; Wagner U; Born J. Sleep to implement an intention. SLEEP 2013;36(1):149-153.