Memory is a crucial factor for all of us from learning and growing to performing daily tasks. The link between sleep and memory has long been studied it has been proven that sleep does affect the memory. By the end of the 19th century it was accepted that sleep had an effect on sorting out and consolidating memories and ideas.
Sleep plays an important role in allowing you to recall and store memories. Even a brief lack of sleep can diminish the brain’s capacity to form new memories as part of everyday learning. Recall of both short- and long-term memory is impaired by lack of sleep.
A sleep-deprived brain is less effective at memory retrieval, while staying well rested can help protect and improve this aspect of memory function.
During sleep our brain performs memory consolidation. This is the process in which the brain takes new knowledge and converts it to longer-term storage, ready for future recall. Memory consolidation not only secures memory for retrieval, but also prepares the brain to accept new information from the next waking day.
Sleep affects different kinds of memory, including both declarative and procedural memories. Declarative memory involves memories related to facts and knowledge, as well as details about individual experiences. Research indicates sleep is critical to the making and storing of declarative memory. Studies also show sleep deprivation and sleep disorders can negatively affect declarative memory.
Procedural memories are task and skill-based memories tied to motor functions and sensory learning. Much of the basic knowledge we need to function on a daily basis — from typing at a computer to driving a car to taking a run at the gym — falls within the category of procedural memory. Procedural memories are often made through repetition and practice, and are recalled without conscious thought. According to research, a routine of high-quality, plentiful sleep is important to motor skill learning and procedural memory.
When you sleep well, you’re making a long-term investment in the health of your memory as you age. Research strongly suggests that high-quality sleep during youth and middle age may help guard against age-related cognitive decline, including problems with memory, many years later.