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2010/04/22

Theory: Sleep Helps you Learn, Beat Games

I read an article by Jamie Madigan, who popped up on the scene not too long ago when he/she wrote and article on Duke Nukem Forever last year. Anyway, there’s another article on there talking about sleep and games.

Here's just a few excerpts:

“And while we’re at it, why is it that I spent an entire controller-crushing hour trying to figure out that one level in the puzzle game Braid before giving up and then nailing it on the first try after a good night’s sleep?”

“Actually, both these questions have a related answer. Sleep, it turns out, is integral to learning… This is one possible reason why babies sleep so much: they literally have to shut down to assimilate what they’ve taken in.”

“And in addition to generally refreshing you and “resharpening” your reflexes, sleep seems to have a similar effect on learning tasks that involve precise, manual finger movements... researchers found that those who had gotten a full night of rest saw dramatic improvements in their performance while those who had just taken a 15 minute break saw no such increase.”

“But that’s not where the benefits of sleep on task performance end. Other research has shown that sleep also increases creativity and problem solving. So the next time you’re enraged your inability to time a series of jumps or figure out how to make a moustache out of a piece of tape and a cat, try sleeping on it.”

I can vouch for this myself. There was one game I played a long time ago, just some Doom clone - and not a very good one – called Assassin 2015. There was one point in the game where I was stuck for days. Then one night while I was asleep, I had a thought or dream which showed me the way – the way to get past this mech in a hallways that kept bursting through the door and wasting me over and over again.

The next day I started the game, loaded up the checkpoint savegame, and tried out what the dream had shown me… and low and behold, it worked. I was able to get past this obstacle, and I went on toe finish the game many times.

I even have a series on this blog where I write about video games and dreams and so on, called “Keen Dreams”.

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Source: To Sleep, Perchance to Pwn [psychologyofgames.com]


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