Episode 26

cognition wellness Jan 26, 2021

Sleep To Remember To Sleep

Haven’t you been paying attention? Don’t you remember anything I’ve written here? I know the episodes aren’t that long, but I’ve kinda been saying the same things for like 8 hours now over the last several months. Remember?

If you don’t, no worry! In this episode, I discuss some of the relationship between your memory and your sleep. Because if your sleep is not optimal, neither will your thinking; so its understandable that you may not remember how to get your sleep more optimal! Its ok, that’s why we’re here.

In essence, sleep helps to prepare the brain to accept upcoming new memories (we know this primarily by seeing impaired memory formation in the first place following a night of disrupted sleep); secondly, sleep helps to organize and consolidate memories after acquisition (primarily by pruning away unnecessary information), and sleep also provides rehearsal of recently acquired memories, allowing for associative or relational learning - by linking new memory information with the rest of the vault of your fund of knowledge and experience.

The second stage of non rapid eye movement sleep (N2) is critical for learning motor tasks. Some of the tests used to determine this include the Pursuit Rotor and Mirror Trace task. Finger tapping (like in Guitar Hero) is another favorite. Sleep spindles in NREM sleep are also highly associated with learning, but declarative (facts, figures, events) information rather than procedural/motor memory. REM sleep also is important for declarative memory - both before and after the learning takes place. REM is also where associated learning happens - just like discussed in Episode 19, little subunits of each memory gets linked to either memory subunits by associative or relational learning. This helps not just in understanding how newly acquired information is related to our base of knowledge, but is also the seed of creativity and problem solving.

So remember, when you sleep well, you'll remember well too.


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