The importance of sleep for memory and health is well established, but scientists have discovered some specific ways in which that is so.
The process of consolidating memories, which is the process of preserving key memories and discarding excessive information, takes place during the different stages of sleep. During the three NREM (non-Rapid-Eye-Movement) stages, the brain sorts through your various memories from the previous day, filtering out important memories and eliminating other information. These selected memories become more concrete as deep NREM sleep begins and continues during REM (Rapid-Eye-Movement) sleep. Emotional memories are also processed in the REM stage, which can help you cope with difficult experiences.
One symptom of sleep deprivation is difficulty remembering things. Since the brain does not have sufficient time to create new pathways for the information you’ve recently learned, sleep deprivation often affects how memories are consolidated. Other potential cognitive impacts include trouble learning and focusing, reduced decision-making skills, and poor emotional and behavioral control.
Studies have concluded that just like adults, children experience stronger memory consolidation after a good night’s sleep. Sleep quality tends to decrease with age, so it is important to prioritize getting good quality sleep, including establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and creating a comfortable sleep environment, no matter your age.
In addition to the impacts on memory, getting enough sleep is also important for overall physical health. Insufficient sleep has been linked to a range of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even an increased risk of death.
Both too little and too much sleep can have negative effects on the brain. So every person should strive for the optimal amount of nightly sleep. Check out the Sleep Foundation's recommendations for the amount of sleep everyone should get by age: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? | Sleep Foundation
Check out our recent video on the Relationship between Sleep and Pain here: https://youtu.be/yugy2phvLmk
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