Does A Good Night's Sleep Improve Your Memory?

by Marc Slater

Good night's sleep is essential for a good memory

Good night's sleep is essential for a good memory

There are a couple of reasons why sleep is important. First, it is the primary way of providing your body with the time to rest in order to recuperate from your daily activities. Sleep also helps in repairing your muscles after a long day. With enough sleep, your muscles are able to recover from the rigorous physical activities you do when you are awake. If you go without getting enough sleep for too long, you even run the risk of damaging your health. But did you know that there is one more reason for you to sleep soundly every night?

In the mid-20th century, researchers began conducting a series of tests regarding the effect a good night’s sleep has on a person’s memory. Test results strongly supported the claim that having enough sleep is essential in improving one’s memory. In one particular class experiment performed in 1994, a group of researchers were able to discover that test participants who were subjected to sleep deprivation showed a decrease in mental performance. All of the studies suggested that when a person lacks sleep, their brain loses some of its ability to properly function in terms of critical thinking as well as in the ability to recall information, leading to memory loss. Researchers started to realize that sleep might actually be the ultimate memory-enhancing technique.

Getting enough sleep is important to enable the brain to rest as well as the body. In effect, if your brain is well-rested, this means that it is refreshed, which consequently enables it to perform at an optimum level. If you have an exam tomorrow, you will be able to recall the things you have studied if you have enough sleep tonight. If your brain is not well-rested - even if you're losing sleep in order to put in more hours studying - you'll have less of a chance to accurately remember what you've learned.

Having enough sleep is necessary to enable your brain not just to better recall information but to efficiently store information as well. If you are going to study for an exam, it is highly advisable that you not sacrifice your sleep time in favor of study time. Sleep is connected to the brain’s ability to learn new information. If you did not get enough sleep the night before, you will have a difficult time learning new information the next day. Your brain will not perform at its best, thus limiting your ability to store new information in your brain. When your brain is not well-rested, it is less efficient in performing its function. On the other hand, a great sleep the previous night will ensure that your brain is in top shape to learn new information in the morning. With the help of this vital rest period, your brain will be performing at its optimum level, and capable of efficiently storing more new information. Similarly, it will be easier for you to recall things if your brain is well-rested, as compared to when it is already tired.

So how does a good night’s sleep improve your memory?

A particular study regarding the link between sleep and memory improvement, which was conducted by a group of researchers from Michigan State University, was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General in its September 2011 issue. In the study, it was found that the brain continues to process information even while a person is sleeping. During the unconscious state of sleep, the brain keeps on working without conscious awareness, assimilating the information gained during the day and moving it into long-term memory storage. Therefore, the process of creating memories that happens while you sleep has a direct impact on your memory when you are awake. In addition, this memory processing and storage that happens while you are sleeping has a significant effect on your waking memory. The unconscious sorting and storage of information results in a well-organized set of memories, and this enables you to recall information faster. Without this "down time" to let your brain sort through, classify, process, and store the information you gain during the day, thereby creating long-term memories, you will be left with a confused jumble of thoughts that will be harder to recall, and less accurate.

A study in Harvard Medical School in Boston yielded similar results. According to researcher Robert Stickgold, sleep plays a vital role in learning. Test subjects who had enough sleep performed better in the memory test than their counterparts who lacked sleep. This study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience in its November 2006 issue.

With so many studies supporting the claim that getting a good night’s sleep is important for memory improvement, we're surprised that more people - especially students and professionals who need that extra edge to get ahead - don't realize that sleeping is one of the ultimate memory enhancing methods. Combining a habit of getting enough sleep with other ultimate memory improvement tips is a great way to increase memory.

The secret to getting enough sleep actually quite simple: go to sleep early. Most of us have morning deadlines of school, work, or family commitments that require us to be up by a specific time, so it's difficult to sleep later in the morning. In this case, the only way to ensure we get enough sleep is to go to bed early. However, if circumstances keep you from going to bed until late in the evening, it is very important that you are able to maximize your sleep time by falling asleep as soon as you lie down. Unfortunately, some people have problems falling asleep quickly. If you are one of these people, the following effective tips to falling asleep fast will be of great help.

• Avoid having late meals. You are more likely to fall asleep faster if you do not have a full stomach.

• Drink milk before sleeping instead of coffee or other drinks with high caffeine content. Milk does not contain caffeine and as such, it helps you fall asleep faster.

• Take a warm bath before going to bed. This can help make your body relax and set it up for a good night’s sleep.

• Keep distractions to a minimum. Make sure the room is as dark and quiet as possible.

Remember, a good night's sleep helps develop a good memory.

** This article is courtesy of Marc Slater from

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