Sleep and Memory: Undeniable Connection

Sleep and Memory: Undeniable Connection

Tina Ureten

The importance of good night sleep for our memory is proven by many researches. The quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on our learning and memory.

Sleep and Memory

Recent neuro-scientific researches show that human brain registers and records the knowledge during the sleep. If the brain doesn’t get enough sleep, the information is lost and it can’t be recalled.  Sleep-deprived person cannot have optimal focus, therefore cannot learn efficiently.

brain memory learning

  

Sleep, Memory and Learning Cycle 

Each day’s experience is registered in hippocampus, part of the brain which stores short term memory. Then the information is moved from there to prefrontal cortex during the sleep. If brain is not in sleep mode, that process gets interrupted. The higher parts of brain get involved for linking the information with previous or future recordings, which is essential for correct judgement and problem solving. Sleep cleans up the hippocampus so we can record fresh information every day.

peacefully sleeping couple

  

Sleep, Memory and Information Retention 

Brain also shows 3 seconds short spikes activity during the sleep, which are called “Sleep Spindles”. The streaming activity between hippocampus and higher brain centers create sleep spindles. People with more sleep spindles can keep better what they have learned and remember them more easily.

sleep memory learning cycle

 

Sleep and Children’s Learning Development

It is shown that children have more sleep spindles than adults, which explains why kids learn quicker than adults. Pre-school age children who get daytime naps have shown better vocabulary growth, generalization of the meaning of words and abstraction in language learning.

children's learning development and sleep - young child reading

Clearly, for children as well as adults, prolonged sleep isn’t a sign of laziness. It is critical for our brain’s connections and our body’s rhythms. In fact, sleep continues to be important for memory and learning throughout the lifetime.

Recent national statistics show millions of Canadian school kids are sleep deprived. This not only causes long-term health consequences but also leads to poor academic performance and mental instability. Parents who provide good sleep routine for their children do the best preventive measure for their kids present and future health.

  

Sleep Deprivation and Depressive Symptoms

Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information. 

woman sleepy. sitting by window

Sleep deprivation can also cause depressive symptoms which can alter ability of learning.

All these show that for a strong learning and memory skills everyone needs a good night’s sleep

 

Author: Dr. Tina Ureten