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Sleep is important for learning and memory

Published on:

April 24, 2020

If we have had a bad night’s sleep it can be hard to concentrate, our reaction time may be delayed, we may struggle to learn new things or recall our memories and not make sensible decisions.

After a good night’s sleep we feel energised, our brain is alert and we are able to clearly focus, learn, be creative and remember information.

Research shows that sleep plays an important role in learning and the formation of memories.

According to a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School

“Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.

Although the exact mechanisms are not known, learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions. Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain. Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable. Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously) after it has been stored.”

While we are sleeping different stages of our sleep play a role in forming different types of memories and consolidating what we have learnt during the day   Research indicating procedural memory, or remembering how to do things such as riding a bike is affected by REM Sleep.

Ensuring you get enough sleep is therefore important to our ability to learn, remember how to do things and make good decisions.

On average, an adult should get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

If you are not sure how much sleep you or a member of your family should be getting based on age the Sleep Health Foundations article how much sleep do you really need gives a good guide.

Sleep well, live well