Can sleep improve your memory?

sleep and memory

If you are struggling to remember things throughout the day, your sleep quality could be to blame.

We all struggle to remember things from time to time, and there are many factors which may contribute to this. However, if you’ve found that you’re feeling foggier and more forgetful than usual, it could be due to issues with your sleep quality.

Reworking your sleep schedule could help to improve your memory, as one of the many processes our brain undergoes when we sleep to help boost our ability to remember. Ensuring you get enough sleep ­– and that the sleep you’re getting is of high enough quality – could be key to improving your memory and helping you feel more functional throughout the day.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways sleep can benefit your memory. Once you’ve got to grips with these factors, you can start considering ways to help improve your sleep quality.

Sleep helps us learn new skills

Whether you’re learning to play a musical instrument, trying out knitting or attempting to master a second language, getting a healthy amount of sleep will help you cement the skills you’ve learned and perform better next time you practise. This is because, when you sleep, new information is transferred to more permanent regions of the brain, including new skills. This is especially true if sleep occurs soon after learning new information, so it may be worthwhile to take a short nap soon after a practice session. Even just 30 minutes of rest could help you improve your memory of what you have learned. One US study found that just one bad night’s sleep can impair the hippocampus, which is a critical region for storing new memories.

Sleep can help us create long term memories

We’ve all come across those people who seem to be able to remember everything they’ve ever seen, heard or read. Chances are, these people are just getting a better night’s sleep than you. When we are awake, our brain takes snapshots of our experiences; the things we’ve done, seen and learned. Then, when we sleep, our brain replays these experiences like a video reel, building new neuron connections to transform the experiences into long-term memories you’ll be able to recall later on.

Assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the school’s sleep medicine fellowship, Avelino Verceles, MD, says: “Sleep embeds the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day into our short-term memory.” From here, information can enter your long-term memory.

Sleep improves your focus

Sleep, or lack thereof, could be to blame for those days when you can’t seem to concentrate and end up reading the same sentence or paragraph over and over again. This is because sleep doesn’t just benefit your memory, it also makes you more attentive, alert and able to digest new information. This in turn means that sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to make memories, as explained by Allison T. Sieburn, PhD, a Fellow in the Insomnia and Behavioural Sleep Medicine Program at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Centre:

“If you’re not able to concentrate on what’s at hand, it’s not going to make it into your short-term memory and then long-term memory.”

And this lack of concentration can lead to even more serious consequences. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that at least 100,000 reported crashes a year are due to driver fatigue.

If you are looking to improve your sleep quality, start by improving your mattress. A Mammoth mattress uses tried and tested materials with advanced sleep support technologies once reserved for the healthcare industry. This allows us to deliver comfort and rejuvenation like no other. Find your nearest retailer and test drive a Mammoth today.