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Rebecca Spencer - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Rebecca Spencer Rebecca Spencer

Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences | University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amherst, MA, UNITED STATES

Rebecca Spencer is one of the nation's leading researchers exploring the relationship between sleep and brain function.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Behavioral Neuroscience

Sleep Memory and Learning

Cognition

Learning and Memory

Sleep and Learning

Biography

A highly sought expect leading expert on the of the relationship between sleep, memory and learning and how these change across the life span, Rebecca Spencer has appeared in publications ranging from the New York Time to PBS, the BBC, Netflix and Glamour magazine.

She leads the Somneurolab at UMass Amherst, where her research team uses a variety of techniques to
explore how the brain operates during sleep and how this processing affects daytime cognition..

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Rebecca Spencer lecture Dr. Rebecca Spencer Rebecca Sepncer presentation of

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Education (2)

Purdue University: Ph.D., Neuroscience

Hope College: B.A., Biology/Kinesiology

Press Coverage (7)

How to Fall Asleep Faster, According to Powerful Women

Glamour  print

2020-03-11

Use your own natural melatonin. How do you do that? By avoiding light in the last half hour to hour before bedtime. Of course, complete darkness may be hard to achieve, but dim the light on your phone or computer and turn off any extra lights in the room in the final hour before bed. Avoid watching tense movies, reading cliffhangers, checking work emails, or engaging in emotional “chats” before bed too. You’ll fall asleep faster. —Rebecca Spencer, neuroscience professor

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Naps don’t work for everyone. Genetic differences are why

The Washington Post  print

2020-03-07

“If you are a regular napper, you can get these two forces [HSP and your circadian rhythm] into a good rhythm so they are nicely balanced,” says Rebecca Spencer, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “The problem is few people nap so regularly.”

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NOVA: Mysteries of Sleep

PBS  tv

2020-02-26

Rebecca Spencer talks about what exactly is happening in our brains when we sleep.

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Sleep Provides 'Remarkable Effects' On Protecting Our Memories, Says Rebecca Spencer

Boston Public Radio  radio

2020-02-26

Rebecca Spencer, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UMass Amherst, joined Boston Public Radio on Wednesday to discuss her role in NOVA's newest special Mysteries of Sleep.

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Netflix Series: Babies

Netflix  online

2020-02-21

Rebecca Sepncer is featured in an episode on Sleep in the Netflix series, "Babies," hiighliting her work studying the connection between sleep, learning and memory in young children.

Netflix: Babies

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TV Not a Good Sleep Aid for Young Kids

U.S. News & World Report  online

2019-05-20

Researchers looked at 470 children aged 3 to 5 in Massachusetts and found that those who watched less than one hour of TV per day got 22 more minutes of sleep at night -- nearly 2.5 more hours per week -- than those who watched more TV on a daily basis. "Parents assumed that TV was helping their kids wind down. But it didn't work. Those kids weren't getting good sleep, and it wasn't helping them fall asleep better," said study author Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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When the going gets tough, have a nap

BBC  online

2018-10-09

hen her daughter was preschool-aged, Rebecca Spencer experienced something familiar to many parents and childminders: the power of a nap. Without it, her daughter would be giddy, grumpy, or both. Spencer, a neuroscientist focusing on sleep at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wanted to investigate the science behind this anecdotal experience. “The observation of a lot of people is that a napless kid is emotionally dysregulated,” she says. “So that spurred us to ask this question of, ‘Do naps actually do something to process emotions?’”

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Publications (1)

Pandemic Sleep Advice Straight From Sleep Researchers Medium

Kelly Baron, PhD, MPH, Brendan Duffy RPSGT CCSH, Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, Jared Saletin, PhD, Rebecca Spencer, PhD, and John Hogenesch, PhD

2020-03-25

In the age of coronavirus, sleep is more important — and more elusive — than ever. Sleep researchers are here to help.

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