Plastic brain sleeping on a pillow | Featured image for Struggling to remember? A good night's sleep could be the answer

Most of us can speak from experience that when we’ve had a bad night’s sleep, we are left feeling groggy and struggle to concentrate the next day. Research has shown a strong correlation between sleep and memory, and that our bad sleeping habits are in fact negatively affecting our memory. Have you noticed a change in the way you’re processing and remembering information? This could have something to do with the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting.

Relationship Between Sleep and Memory

Healthy sleep is crucial for forming both short and long-term memories, as well as absorbing and recalling information. Not only does sleep give your body time to rest and recharge, it is also vital to your brain’s ability to learn and remember. While we sleep our brain processes information from the day to form memories. If you are sleep deprived your ability to learn and retain new information may be decreased.

For example, people who stay up all night the night before an exam often do worse, as they haven’t had the sleep they need to then recall that information the next day. So, next time you’re thinking of staying up all night cramming for that exam remember the relationship between sleep and memory, and that your memory will be better off by getting a good night’s sleep. Being well rested you’re more likely to feel better, perform better, and to remember more!

How Does Sleep Affect Memory

Decreased Focus and Weaker Memory

There are two different ways lack of sleep effects our memory and learning. Firstly, a sleep deprived person will find it hard to focus and learn efficiently. Secondly, sleep itself plays a role in the strengthening of memory, which is essential for learning new information. Due to the strong connection between sleep and memory, for something to become a memory, three functions must occur:

  • Acquisition – learning or experiencing something new
  • Consolidation – the memory becomes stable in the brain
  • Recall – having the ability to access the memory in the future

Acquisition and recall are both functions that take place when we are awake. However, memory consolidation takes place while we sleep. Our brain processes new information and transfers it into longer term storage while we are asleep, further stressing the seriousness of the link between sleep and memory performance.

Achieve All 5 Stages of Sleep

Did you know that when you sleep your brain is cycling through five different stages? There are two main types of sleep; rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. Each stage is uniquely important in getting quality sleep, and it is said that memories appear to be formed in all three sleep stages; light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. This is why it is important to have uninterrupted healthy sleep, so each sleep cycle is being achieved.

Young People and Sleep

Young people can often have the misconception that sleep isn’t as important to them, that it only becomes important as we get older, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research shows that sleep and memory are so closely related that good sleep during your youth and middle age will help protect against age related declines such as problems with memory, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. By asking yourself “how does sleep affect memory” at a young age, and implementing healthy changes is a great long-term investment in the health of your memory as you age.

Better Sleep for a Better Memory

Although the relationship between sleep and memory is complicated, when managed correctly, you can see huge improvements in your quality of life.  If you’re to take accountability for your quality of sleep, it is well worth investing in a high quality Wenatex sleep system. We stock a wide range of products that have been scientifically designed to improve your sleep, including a comfortable ergonomic bed base, pressure relieving orthopaedic mattress, and a host of high quality sleep accessories. If you want to learn more about maximising your sleep, get in touch with our team on 1300 858 139 or through our online contact form.

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