If you’ve ever crammed all night for an exam and then struggled through the actual test, you have come face to face with the relationship between sleep and memory. Turns out, cramming is not that effective if you need to have good recall of the facts you accumulated overnight.
Let’s take a look at the inner workings of memories and how they relate to sleep.
How It Works
Although scientists don’t have a complete understanding of how memories work, they believe that during sleep, memories move from the short-term section to the long-term part of the brain. Therefore, if you study all night but don’t sleep, your brain never has a chance to transfer information into the part of the memory that allows for recall, such as needed during a test. During sleep is the time when memories become more concrete and well formed, particularly during Rapid Eye Movement sleep, when dreams happen.
Of course, lack of deep memories is not the only problem that occurs after a night with no sleep. Your fine motor skills likely will be impaired, and your judgment and reflexes will suffer as well. If the lack of sleep continues for the long term, you are at a higher risk for hypertension, obesity, and even diabetes.
The importance of good sleep can manifest itself in many ways. Here are some of the most advantageous when it comes to memory functions:
• Better recall of even new memories
• Improved fine motor function
• Better judgment. Tired people more often believe their answers are correct when really they are wrong.
• Easier absorption of new information
• Even skills that are reserved in muscle memory such as athletic endeavors or playing a musical instrument are better after good sleep.
• Short naps yield better information recall too, but not as good as a full night’s sleep.
Getting Better Sleep
Now that we see how important sleep is to having a better memory, here are some steps you can take to have a more restful night.
• Sleep in a cool, dark, and quiet room.
• Don’t eat or exercise within several hours of going to sleep.
• Avoid watching TV or using the computer while in bed. You don’t want any stimulus right before trying to fall asleep.
• Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same times each day.
• Don’t consume drinks with caffeine or alcohol in them right before bedtime.
If you value your memory skills or want to improve your recall, make sure you are getting enough restful sleep each day. If your mattress is old, Mattress.com provides a large selection of the most popular name brands at competitive pricing.
How is your memory?
Are you getting enough restful sleep?
Do you have problems falling asleep?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.