Sleep to Remember

If you need yet another reason to get more sleep, here’s one more.  Research has found that there is an important connection between sleep and memory.  Sleep not only aids in your ability to combat forgetfulness, it also makes it easier for you to access memories.

Using advanced microscopy, a team of researchers from the New York University School of Medicine and Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School trained mice to learn a new skill in an effort to see what happens when the animals are sleeping vs. sleep deprived.  The study was published in the journal Science and holds interesting results. The mice were trained to walk on top of a rotating rod.  After looking inside the living brain with a microscope of the sleeping and sleep deprived mice, the results showed that the sleeping mice were learning more.  They were forming far more neuron connections.

“Finding out sleep promotes new connections between neurons is new, nobody knew this before,” according to Professor Wen-Biao Gan from New York University. 

Animals are not the only ones to reap this benefit of sleep.  Professor Gan added, “One of the implications is for kids studying, if you want to remember something for long periods you need these connections. So it is probably better to study and have good sleep rather than keep studying.” 

Further research published in the journal Cortex confirms the connection between sleep and memory. Nicolas Dumay, a psychologist at the University of Exeter explained, “Sleep almost doubles our chances of remembering previously unrecalled material.  The post-sleep boost in memory accessibility may indicate that some memories are shaped overnight.  This supports the notion that, while asleep, we actively rehearse information flagged as important.”

Bottom line, sleep is memory's friend.