The Effect of Sleep on Your Memory

The Effect of Sleep on Your Memory

We tend to think of sleep as a time when our minds and bodies shut down. Our body temperature cools, our blood pressure drops, our heart rate slows down, and much of the time, we are still. But while our bodies are at rest, our brain is very active. Although we don’t know exactly how the process works, researchers believe the brain uses sleep to strengthen and build new neural pathways between cells and possibly to clean itself.

Strong cell pathways in the brain help us concentrate, increase our reaction time, and help us learn and remember new information. Learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions.

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Acquisition– which is the introduction to new information

Consolidation– the stabilization and strengthening of the memory

Recall– the ability to access the information whether consciously or subconsciously wherever it may be stored


Acquisition and recall occur while we are awake. Consolidation, however, occurs during sleep. It’s believed that different brainwaves associated with different stages of sleep, help the formation of new memories. Because of this, lack of adequate sleep makes remembering important information very difficult.

There’s also another aspect of sleep deprivation that affects our memories. When we are tired, it becomes very difficult to concentrate. When we lose our ability to fully focus, it can make the acquisition of new information laborious.When we are sleep deprived, our thinking process slows down, and our ability to make good decisions and have a clear understanding is compromised. But it also has an effect on our mood.

The point is that tired brains, cannot function properly. They’re slow, unable to learn, and unable to process information. That’s why staying in a state of sleep deprivation for an extended period of time is dangerous.

If you want to feel and perform your best during the day, it’s important to create good sleep habits and get the appropriate amount of sleep for your age. If you are practicing good sleep habits, but are still waking up groggy and in a fog all day, you may have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper passages of your airways close up, cutting off your oxygen and stopping your breathing until you wake up and start breathing again.

If you are concerned about sleep apnea, we can work with your sleep specialist or your Primary Care doctor to screen for signs of sleep apnea and to fit you for a dental appliance, which looks much like an orthodontic retainer, to keep your respiratory system open and free from blockage. To learn more about sleep apnea, give us a call at (662) 823-7900!

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