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The Relationship Between Sleep and Memory

Everyone has had their memory fail them at one point or another. Whether it is forgetting a name or struggling to remember what you did the day before. It is common to think we are too busy with our fast-paced lives too remember some of the things we tend to forget, but getting a good night’s rest might make all of the difference in this problem we have all experienced. How much you sleep and how well you sleep can have a powerful effect on your memory. Everyone has had their memory fail them at one point or another. Whether it is forgetting a name or struggling to remember what you did the day before. It is common to think we are too busy with our fast-paced lives too remember some of the things we tend to forget, but getting a good night’s rest might make all of the difference in this problem we have all experienced. How much you sleep and how well you sleep can have a powerful effect on your memory.

Memory

When talking about sleep and memory, we’re talking about the intersection of two complicated and dynamic physiological processes. Memory has three distinct phases:

  • Acquisition: taking in new information.
  • Consolidation: storing information that’s been acquired.
  • Recall: retrieving memory from storage.

Sleep

Sleep can play a role in helping or hindering each of these aspects of memory. Sleeping well, and avoiding sleep deprivation, can make a real difference in your ability to take in new information and to learn. If you’ve ever tried to study for a test or complete a work project while short on sleep, you’ve experienced the obstacles that sleep deprivation can have on memory acquisition. Even a very short period of sleep deprivation can diminish your capacity to form new memories in everyday learning.
Sleep is also important to your ability to recall memories you’ve already made. Research indicates that recall in both short-term and long-term memory is impaired by lack of sleep. A sleep-deprived brain is less effective at retrieving memories, while staying well rested can help protect and improve this “remembering” phase of memory.

While both memory acquisition and memory recall are influenced by sleep, it is consolidation, the middle phase of the memory process, that occurs during sleep. Memory consolidation takes new knowledge you’ve gained and stabilizes it to preserve it for future recall, and protects it from disruption or degradation. When this happens during sleep, it not only secures memory for future retrieval, but also appears to free up the learning centers of the brain in preparation to take in new batches of information in the next waking day.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep can have a positive, protective effect on memory. Both the quantity and the quality of sleep are important to memory function. Here are some tips that can help you sleep better:

  • Establish a sleep routine. A consistent bedtime that allows for seven to nine hours of nightly rest is the foundation of a strong sleep routine and can help you avoid the sleep deprivation that interferes with memory and other cognitive functions.
  • Be thoughtful about consumption. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol several hours before bedtime can help improve sleep quantity and quality. Not only can these substances make it more difficult to sleep, they can disrupt normal sleep cycles, and may alter time spent in the stages of sleep that are most important for memory. Eating heavily in the evenings or late at night can also disturb sleep quality and lead to restless, interrupted sleep.
  • Ease your stress. Managing daily stress is also critical for healthy, high-quality sleep. Worry and anxiety are among the most common sources of poor and insufficient rest, leaving you with a tired body and mind at the beginning of the next day.

Treatment with Dr. Shukla

If you are having sleep troubles that don’t seem to be going away no matter what you do, you don’t have to live with them. Don’t be one of the millions of adults struggling with untreated sleep problems.

Let the experts with Dr. Mayank Shukla help you get a good night’s sleep and answer any additional questions you may have about sleep and memory. Doctor Shukla and his team have years of experience in pediatric respiratory medicine, allergy treatment, and sleep apnea therapy to finally get you the rest you want and deserve. Contact our offices today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Shukla.

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