Taking longer breaks may help to strengthen memory, according to a new study.
People often clear their minds after a hectic day by taking a break, but now findings reported in the journal Current Biology suggest that longer breaks can help you to learn better too.
German researchers ran tests on mice to explore how the brain reacts when it has time to rest before a repeat activity - in this instance, remembering the location of hidden chocolate through a maze course.
Mice used the same neuronal connections they did the first time they learned if they were given sufficient rest. This helped the brain to remember more about the activity they had just completed, by strengthening mental connections in the mind.
Meanwhile, running the maze in three quick trips with shorter breaks led to the activation of different neurons every time.
Neurobiologist Annet Glas explained: "Mice that were trained with the longer intervals between learning phases were not able to remember the position of the chocolate as quickly. But on the next day, the longer the pauses, the better was the mice's memory."
The study may also explain why information crammed into the brain before exams is quickly lost again soon afterwards.
Meanwhile, expanded time intervals between learning can boost the knowledge retained for a longer period of time.
Pieter Goltstein, another neurobiologist involved in the study, said: "That's why we believe that memory benefits from longer breaks."