Exercising before a nap benefits memory better than napping or exercising alone

Mograss, M., Crosetta, M., Abi-Jaoude, J., Frolova, E., Robertson, E. M. , Pepin, V. and Dang-Vu, T. T. (2020) Exercising before a nap benefits memory better than napping or exercising alone. Sleep, 43(9), zsaa062. (doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsaa062)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Sleep leads to the enhancement of memory, and physical exercise also improves memory along with beneficial effects on sleep quality. Potentially, sleep and exercise may operate independently upon memory; alternatively, they may operate synergistically to boost memory above and beyond exercise or sleep alone. We tested this hypothesis in 115 young healthy adults (23 ± 3.9 years) randomly allocated to one of the four conditions in a 2 (exercise vs. no exercise) × 2 (nap vs. no nap) design. The exercise intervention consisted of a 40-minute, moderate intensity cycling, while the no exercise condition was an equivalent period of rest. This was followed by a learning session in which participants memorized a set of 45 neutral pictures for a later test. Subsequently, participants were exposed to either a 60-minute sleep period (nap) or an equivalent time of resting wakefulness, followed by a visual recognition test. We found a significant interaction between the effects of exercise and nap (p = 0.014, η p2 = 0.053), without significant main effects of exercise or nap conditions. Participants who experienced both exercise plus nap were significantly more accurate (83.8 ± 2.9) than those who only napped (81.1 ± 5.4, p = 0.027) and those who only exercised (78.6 ± 10.3, p = 0.012). Within the combined nap plus exercise group, higher recognition accuracies were associated with higher sleep spindle densities (r = 0.46, p = 0.015). Our results demonstrate that short-term exercise and a nap improve recognition memory over a nap or exercise alone. Exercise and sleep are not independent factors operating separately upon memory but work together to enhance long-term memory.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This research was supported by the American Sleep Medicine Foundation Focus Project Award (MM, TDV), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (TDV), and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (TDV). TDV is also supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 142191, PJT 153115, PJT 156125, and PJT 166167), the Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Santé and Concordia University.
Keywords:Physiology (medical), Clinical Neurology
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robertson, Professor Edwin
Authors: Mograss, M., Crosetta, M., Abi-Jaoude, J., Frolova, E., Robertson, E. M., Pepin, V., and Dang-Vu, T. T.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Sleep
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1550-9109
Published Online:01 April 2020

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record