Sleep Your Way to a Better Memory

A woman sleeping with her hand on her head at work
fizkes/Getty Images

A good night’s sleep is more than just eight hours of sweet oblivion at the end of a long day. It’s time for your brain to build up your memory power.

That’s important, because when you don’t sleep, your brain struggles to convert the information you’ve collected into long-term memories. In a study of mice, a team of international researchers found that just five hours of sleep deprivation can reduce the connections between neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory formation.

To learn more, check out this article on Staying Sharp: 4 Tips for a Better Memory — and Life — for Those Without Total Recall

What’s the link between sleeping and preserving memories? When we sleep, we experience non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Both are important for making memories, but NREM sleep is a deeper type of sleep, and it’s what we experience when we first go to bed. Deep sleep helps the brain to store and consolidate memories, which become long-term memories as we slumber.

NREM sleep is considered important for recovering from sleep loss — and if you’re endured a restless night, three hours of makeup sleep may help repair the damage, the researchers found.

Feeling sleep deprived? Find out more on why Your Memory Could Suffer

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

Search AARP Blogs
Related Posts
February 09, 2021 10:47 AM
Some of the worst things you can do for your brain are bad habits, some of which can really take a toll on its mental abilities.
February 05, 2021 11:29 AM
Studies show that exposure to the tiniest air pollutant particles is linked to decreased brain volume and the risk of a decline in memory skills.
February 04, 2021 01:07 PM
One of the best things you can do for your brain is get more sleep, so what can you do to help that? Some experts say to try weighted blankets.