How Sleep Impacts Memory
How Sleep Impacts Memory
Memory is one of the key elements of cognitive function. Without memory, there is no identity and no personal history, and memory is also indispensable for executive function and your ability to work properly.
With that in mind, you can easily recognize why taking good care of your memory is important and how it can bring a major positive impact on your day-to-day life.
As you know, proper sleep is also associated with a higher quality of life and overall well-being. Sleeping the recommended number of hours per day has a positive impact on almost all areas of our day-to-day function, including our memory.
The relationship between memory and sleep has been studied and researched for a long time, and science has discovered that they are very closely linked.
Proper sleep brings many benefits to your memory, while sleep deprivation can prove very harmful.
In this blog, we’ll explain the close relationship that sleep has with memory and how to develop healthy sleeping habits that will also benefit memory.
Understanding the connection between sleep and memory
The brain is quite active while we sleep. One of the cognitive functions that see a lot of action while we rest is memory.
While sleeping the brain goes through a process in which it begins organizing and consolidating experiences we have undergone throughout the day. During sleep, the day's memories are activated, organized, and consolidated into long-term memories, turning them into more stable memories.
There are three key processes involved in proper memory function: acquisition, consolidation, and retrieval. We’ll look at them to further understand how our memory works.
The process of acquisition takes care of organizing new experiences that we perceive in our day-to-day life. It’s the first base of memory, and in this stage, the things we remember are fleeting and will be forgotten as time passes.
This stage is strongly associated with what scientists call short-term memory and work memory, and both systems work with the information we need in the present but don’t need in the long run.
We don’t remember everything we experience, and memory usually works to let go of the information we don’t need and store the information we do.
The second process of memory is consolidation. This step involves information going from short-term memory to long-term memory. In this stage, memories made throughout the day become more stable and the information about those experiences starts to be engraved in our memory for present or later recall. It is a fundamental process that relates to learning and memory.
The process of recall is the ability to remember and use the information stored in our memory. The information we use can be both from our short-term memory (if we are recalling memories from the close past, for example) or long-term memory (if it’s a memory from long ago).
It is a very important process—without the ability to recall our memories, there is no reason to store them.
The processes of acquisition and recall both happen during the day, but when it comes to the stage of consolidation, this is where sleep takes a fundamental role. During healthy sleep, the brain actively organizes and stores information. It is believed that the brain consolidates memories while it sleeps because it is untroubled by the perceptions we may experience while awake.
Sleep deprivation and memory
Now that we have a clearer understanding of how sleep and memory are related, let’s look at all the complications that may arise from sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation is linked to many negative impacts on health and general well-being. Memory also takes a toll when you don’t sleep enough.
Sleep deprivation affects memory mainly in two different ways: by hampering the consolidation process and by impacting working memory.
Sleep deprivation and the consolidation stage
Sleep deprivation affects the brain’s ability to consolidate memories while you sleep. This means you’ll have a harder time creating long-term memories, leading to forgetfulness.
Not getting enough sleep can affect signaling to the hippocampus, the brain region tightly linked to our ability to consolidate memory and a key player in declarative memory consolidation.
Additionally, sleep stages such as slow-wave sleep and REM sleep play a big part in memory consolidation. Some research suggests that during the rapid eye movement stage of the sleep-wake cycle, we don't only consolidate memories but also filter and forget excessive information to keep our memory from overloading.
Sleep deprivation and working memory
But that’s not all! Being sleep deprived also has a significant impact on what we call working memory. As we’ve explained, working memory is a key cognitive function that allows us to work with present information by remembering and organizing key elements. It’s a fundamental component of executive functions.
Chronic sleep deprivation affects a number of cognitive functions. Working memory is one of them.
Sleeping habits for better memory
Now that you understand how sleep deprivation affects memory and how healthy sleeping habits can positively impact memory, let’s go through a number of sleep tips you can keep in mind to build quality sleeping patterns.
If you have any sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, you should always consult with a doctor for proper treatment.
Create a sleeping routine
One thing that is very helpful to healthy sleep is to create a sleeping routine that promotes restful sleep. Routines are a great way of forming habits, and once you have a system ready, it’s easier to follow through with it.
Try to go to bed at the same time every day, and get up at a similar time. Our bodies adapt gradually to a rhythm and having a set time to fall asleep and wake up helps us get into that rhythm.
Try to wind down before going to bed. Taking a bath, reading a book, or anything that helps you relax and calm down will be a good ally in transitioning to a deep sleep state.
Create a comfortable sleeping environment in your bedroom. Try to make your bedroom as dark and silent as possible, with an ideal temperature. Your body reacts to the surrounding environment, and sleep will come easier in a comfortable environment.
What should you avoid?
There are some things you should try to avoid when it is time to go to bed, and even a couple of hours before going to sleep.
Avoid caffeine consumption or alcoholic beverages before bed. Both substances have been shown to interfere with sleeping quality.
You should also refrain from using technology for at least an hour before sleeping. Technological gadgets emit blue light, which has been linked to disruptions in your sleep-wake cycles, making it harder for you to fall asleep at an appropriate time.
Improve your bed through quality bedding supplies
A great way to ensure the quality of your sleep is by optimizing your bed with the best bedding possible. At Mellanni, we offer a vast selection of bedding made with the highest quality and with the purpose of creating the perfect sleeping environment.
Create a dark, quiet environment with our Blackout Curtains. These curtains are incredibly stylish and functional, blocking up to 99% of light and UV rays while reducing external sound.
Having trouble with the firmness of your mattress? Try our Microplush Mattress Pad. This pad is constructed with little squares that act as tiny pillows, providing soft comfort and deep support while you sleep.
Give our Premium Bed Pillows a try! Your head and neck need proper support, and our pillows are the perfect balance of firm and fluffy for a comfy night.
Having trouble finding a comfortable position? This is easily solvable with our Premium Body Pillow. The length of our body pillow is designed to keep you properly supported in any position you choose.
Treat yourself to a classic, but goodie. Our Iconic Collection Microfiber Sheet Set is made with the finest double-brushed microfiber and is the definition of practical, yet luxurious.
Looking for a breathable set that will keep you fresh throughout the night? Our 100% Flax Linen Bed Sheet Set is the set for you. This set wicks away moisture easily, making it ideal for hot sleepers.
Sleep and memory are closely related. Memory consolidation and working memory are both affected by sleep deprivation and both systems need good sleeping habits to function correctly.
We hope this blog has been helpful in understanding the relationship between sleep and memory and how you can take steps to achieve healthy sleep patterns that strengthen your memory.
Don’t forget to take a look at the following products, they’ll surely help you get the perfect setting for a good night’s sleep:
- Create the right atmosphere in your room with our Blackout Curtains
- Add extra comfort to your mattress with our Microplush Mattress Pad
- Treat your head and neck to proper support with our Premium Bed Pillows
- Use our Premium Body Pillow to properly support your body through the night
- Get comfortable in luxurious fashion with our Iconic Collection Microfiber Sheet Set
- Are you a hot sleeper? Check out our 100% Flax Linen Bed Sheet Set for a set guaranteed to keep you fresh throughout the night