Dec 05, 2023
Sleep and Its Effect On Memory
The saying, ‘When you learn something new, the best way to remember it is to sleep on it’ is frequently cited by researchers as the greatest method to retain new information. In the modern day, memory impairment brought on by sleep deprivation is a major problem.
Sleep is frequently forgotten amid the daily grind for the sake of productivity. The fact that there are things to do in our culture around the clock means that the issue of insufficient sleep is probably going to get worse. Millions of individuals sleep fewer than seven hours a night, the bare minimum needed to avoid progressive declines in neurobehavioral functioning.
People need to be made aware of the significant influence restful sleep has on several facets of our health.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that those who receive enough sleep do better in activities involving memory. Well-rested minds are better at taking in, processing, and remembering information—whether it's from a lecture, picking up a new skill, or memorizing facts.
On the other hand, inadequate sleep has been connected to worsened cognitive abilities, such as memory problems. Lack of sleep impairs our capacity to focus and concentrate, which makes it difficult to efficiently encode and recall information.
This blog will delve into the importance of a good night’s sleep and explore the fascinating connection between sleep and memory.
SLEEP & MEMORY CONNECTION
A naturally occurring, reversible condition of decreased reactivity to outside stimuli is called sleep. Good sleep is crucial for mental and psychological health in addition to physical health.
Three main subprocesses make up memory functions: encoding, consolidation, and retrieval.
When a stimulus is perceived during encoding, a new memory trace is created. This trace is initially very vulnerable to disruptive factors and deterioration.
The labile memory trace is steadily stabilized throughout consolidation, presumably by a series of short- and long-term waves of consolidation processes that reinforce and incorporate the memory into existing knowledge networks.
The stored memory is evaluated and retrieved during retrieval.
Our brains go through several complex phases when we sleep, such as rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave sleep (SWS). Although each stage is linked to a particular function, memory consolidation mostly takes place during SWS.
According to studies, the waking brain is optimized for memory encoding, but the sleep brain optimizes memory consolidation. The reactivation of freshly learned neural memory representations is the source of consolidation.
During slow wave sleep, the brain replays and strengthens neural connections formed during wakefulness. This process helps solidify memories and facilitates the transfer of information from short-term to long-term storage. In other words, the quality of our sleep directly influences how well we remember and retain information.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS TO POOR SLEEP
Some of the physical factors like the air quality of the room, being at a high-pressure place, the noise of other people in the room, exposure to electric and magnetic fields, increased nighttime use of mobile phones, seasonal changes, formation of time difference due to travel, features of bed, pillow, coldness of the room, high room temperature, brightness or darkness of the room, psychological factors like stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, doubt, depression, lower life satisfaction, excitement, tension and biological factors like medical conditions, weight gain, fatigue, consuming more coffee, tea, alcohol, excessive eating, strenuous physical activity, the feeling of hunger, losing weight are some of the contributing factors to poor sleep. Certain social factors like family problems, having trouble with friends, financial distress, having trouble with a partner, and loneliness also influence sleep quality.
EFFECT OF SLEEP DEPRIVATION ON BRAIN AND MEMORY
A region of the brain essential for memory formation called the hippocampus is impacted by sleep deprivation.
The hippocampus area is responsible for processing, consolidating, and retrieving short- and long-term memory in addition to handling orientation and spatial navigation. Hippocampal-associated proteins are essential for the consolidation of memory. Insufficient sleep has been linked to damage of hippocampal neurons and hippocampus volume and size reduction. These effects can impair hippocampal-dependent memory functions and make it more difficult to form new memories and recall the past.
The thalamus integrates and coordinates sensory information, controls attention and wakefulness, and is involved in the regulation of sleep-wake cycles. Lack of sleep can disrupt thalamic sensory perception and processing, which can impact memory consolidation. Acute sleep deprivation may cause transient memory impairments, while chronic sleep deprivation may have more serious and long-lasting effects on cognitive abilities.
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for retrieving information and memories, among other cognitive processes. The prefrontal cortex is essential for attention and memory, and it is where working memory is encoded. Sleep deprivation can lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, which can affect attention and memory consolidation.
Oxidative stress has a significant impact on memory development; short- and long-term memory are both negatively impacted by increased oxidative stress brought on by severe sleep deprivation.
Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps control alertness and sleep, has been linked to changes in brain levels while sleep deprived. Extended sleep deprivation can change GABA receptor sensitivity and expression. GABA dysregulation may be a factor in memory retrieval impairments, making it difficult to remember previously taught material.
Extended sleep deprivation is associated with plasma and brain 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine) levels which results in central fatigue and reduced memory function.
To support optimal memory and cognitive function, maintaining a regular sleep schedule and ensuring an adequate amount of high-quality sleep is crucial. Upgrade your productivity, mood, and memory with the solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.