Does Better Sleep Mean Better Memory?
You’re in front of your peers and top level managers for an important work meeting. As you go through your presentation, you stand there embarrassed. You blanked out, your memory switched off! Your presentation is now ruined. Ouch.
If you stayed up all night to get ready for an exam or presentation, this could sound all too familiar. Cheating on your sleep is a terrible thing to do for your memory.
Let’s see the importance of good sleep for proper learning and memory.
The Importance Of Sleep
It’s no secret that restorative sleep is great for our mind and body. While you sleep, your body goes into repair mode, your immune system refuels, and your hormones that affect your emotions are regulated and balanced.
Did you know that sleep is also important for learning new things and vital to a good memory. When you are asleep, your brain digests the information you’ve taken in during the day, storing the important ones as memories. When you lack sleep, your memory and learning take a hit.
How Does Memory Work?
Your memory is important for going through life. Without memory, there is no learning and remembering important skills and concepts. Communication would be a struggle, and everyday life would be impossible.
There are 3 main memory types
- Semantic memory helps you understand and recall ideas and concepts like people in history or sounds of letters
- Episodic memory helps you remember details of your wedding day or prom dance.
- Procedural memory helps you remember the learning of skills such as driving a car or riding a bike
- Encoding is when you store new information for a short time in your brain
- Consolidation is your brain takes short-term memories and stores it into long last memories
- Recall is the brain’s ability to recall information
- Studies find that encoding and recall occur when you are awake, and consolidation happens when you are asleep
Stages Of Sleep & Consolidation Of Memory Types
There are two stages of sleep that are important for proper memory-building: (SWS) slow-wave sleep and (REM) rapid eye movement.
Early memory and sleep studies prove that REM, the sleep state where dreams occur, plays a role in semantic memories. This is important when the memories are complex - like practicing a new language - or full of emotion, like seeing your first born for the first time. Aside from this, REM sleep is important for building procedural memory, for instance, a skill needed to play a certain sport. Meanwhile, building episodic memories occur when SWS stage kicks in.
Sleep Deprivation & Learning & Memory
What are the effects of sleep deprivation on our learning and memory?
The current research concludes that attention and focus are compromised when we lack sleep. Digesting new information and learning new things is tougher when we have bad sleep health.
Sleep deprivation tires our neurons - the cells that are in charge of taking and transmitting information. What does this mean? Neurons cannot do their job properly, and our brains can’t reach memories we learned or stored. Many studies conclude that the proper amount of deep sleep can help teenagers remember facts by 20% more.
Lack of sleep also smears our ability to assess a things, damaging our better judgment and smart decision-making. In conclusion, bad sleep affects your mind and mood, resulting in poor learning.
How To Get Better Sleep For Better Memory
Here are some things you can introduce into your life to improve your sleep and memory.
Research concludes that daily exercise increases REM sleep, which improves memory function. The WHO suggests adults should have at least 150-300 minutes of exercise per week.
Listen to pink noise
Studies find that pink noise promotes deep sleep. Pink noise is made up of consistent frequency, like rain falling or an river going down stream. There are many apps that include pink noise to help increase slow-wave sleep.
Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol can cut down on REM sleep. To cut the risk of poor sleep, cut out drinking alcohol before you go to bed.
Use a weighted blanket
Sleeping under a Weighted Blanket is proven to help people fall asleep faster naturally and stay asleep longer and deeper. The Weighted Blanket imitates deep touch pressure, it feels like a warm hug, which makes you relax and improves sleep health drastically for those with sleep problems and no sleep problems. After using Weighted Blankets, many people who thought their sleep was fine, realize how much better it could have been with a Weighted Blanket.