How important is sleep for a good memory?

Dr. Kelly Traver

Sleep matters in memory because that is when your brain replays what you just learned over and over so that it can make tight connections. Get adequate sleep.

Sleep is very important. It allows for the acquisition of new experiences and learning, consolidation of information and recalling previous and future memories.

Dr. Gayatri Devi, MD

Sleep is the single most important thing you can do to improve your memory. In this video, neurologist Gayatri Devi, MD, discusses how information is retained and rehearsed while we sleep, so getting quality sleep is imperative for a sharp memory.

We spend about one-third of our lives asleep—but this time is far from wasted. As you sleep, your brain performs memory consolidation, sending new information gathered during your waking hours to your long-term memory. Research shows that if you take a nap right after studying, chances are you'll do better on that big test.

Dr. Michael Breus, PhD
Psychology Specialist

Sleep has been identified as playing a significant role in the function of long term memory consolidation (the process of taking information gathered throughout the day and organizing it into coherent thoughts). REM sleep in particular seems to have the greatest effect on memory building. While researchers are still working to completely understand how sleep affects memory, this is what we know so far:

The duration of REM sleep appears to increase after training in certain new tasks. Once these tasks are mastered, the duration of REM sleep returns to normal.

Sleep is important for procedural memory:when someone is taught a procedure,  sleep may improve their ability to perform this procedure by as much as twenty percent.

Dr. Christopher E. Morgan, MD
Sleep Medicine Specialist

Sleep is critical in retaining memory. Bountiful research over the course of decades has demonstrated sleep's role in enhancing memory. More recent findings highlight sleep's very active role where memories undergo a process of consolidation. This process makes sleep critical in retaining memory. Memory consolidation is when your brain is filtering out what's not needed for long-term memory. Your brain processes many details throughout a day, and much of it doesn't belong in long-term memory. During sleep, the brain basically weeds out what's not needed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.