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Did you know good that getting good quality and duration of sleep can improve your memory!
Often we think about our mental resources as set in stone, like the colour of our eyes or how tall we are. How often do you hear someone say in a self-defeating tone, ‘I don’t have a good memory’ or ‘I’m a slow learner’? While some people may have a higher baseline than others, research has shown that the quality and duration of our sleep can improve our brain function, particularly our memory.
- Firstly, sleep improves our ability to focus and acquire new information when we learn or experience something new. Our ability to recall information from our memory is enhanced by a good night’s sleep also.
- It is actually when we are sleeping, however, that memories are consolidated in our brain to be recalled or used when required. This is why sleep is believed to be so important, for memory consolidation. So yep, that means mum was right all those years ago, you should have gone to sleep instead of staying up going over your study notes ‘one more time’.
- Interestingly, different types of memories are consolidated during different phases of sleep. For example, declarative memory(i.e. what you know, i.e. what is the capital city of Canada?) is believed to be consolidated during deep, slow wave sleep, whereas non declarative memory (i.e. how to ride a bike, or how to talk your way out of a telemarketing call) is believed to be consolidate during REM sleep, which is a lighter part of the sleep cycle and is when we dream.
- In a study by Robert Stickgold he ‘asked volunteers to perform three different tasks, a visual texture discrimination test, a motor sequence test and a motor adaptation test, and demonstrated that all subjects show post-training improvement after a night’s sleep but not during an equivalent period of being awake‘. Another visual discrimination study cited in this article showed that there was no further improvement in recall throughout the day after training, however after a second night’s sleep there was again an improvement in recall. Stickland concludes that ‘the sleep-dependent process of memory enhancement continues for at least 48–96 hours.’
The bottom line: Get a good sleep tonight to ensure you remember this post on how important sleep is for your memory! Oh! And the capital city of Canada is Ottawa.