July 21, 2019

How Sleep Affects Your Memory – The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

9 min read

How Sleep Affects Your Memory - The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

How Sleep Affects Your Memory – People need to have a good night’s sleep as much as possible as it is here where memory consolidation happens. Unfortunately, that restful night’s sleep that we all want to have so badly happens occasionally, in some cases, as we attend to a lot of matters that keep us awake until the early hours of the morning.

Sleep Expert


Just like sleep, researchers are still trying to understand the complexity of our memories, although they know that there is a correlation between sleep and memory. It appears that sleep plays a role in keeping declarative memory in a long-term storage in our brain. As for simpler conditioning, although studies are still being conducted, it appears that sleep still plays a role on it since it is at this point that sections of our brain namely the hippocampus, amygdala, and the neocortex remain active.  So, how does sleep affect memory?

How Sleep Affects Your Memory
Memory Loss Due To Sleep Deprivation

How Sleep Affects Your Memory
How Sleep Affects Your Memory – Sleep Deprivation And Memory Loss

For those who are wondering, “how does sleep affect memory?”, here’s how it goes: lack of sleep can affect a person’s ability to focus on the task at hand and learn from it and sleep is crucial to consolidating and retaining memory too. Acquisition and recall are two functions that are brain has when we are awake. Researchers believe that memory consolidation happens when we are asleep regardless of what type of memory it is. When we become sleep deprived, it is harder for us to retain and recall memories which means that there are important memories that are not readily absorbed and retained.

How sleep affects memory? Sleep deprivation means that your circadian rhythm is affected. The circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake cycle which consists of non-REM sleep and REM sleep. When people become sleep deprived, they put themselves at risk for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, as well as heart disease, depression, and even type 2 diabetes just to name a few. These effects of sleep deprivation also mean that there is not enough oxygen reaching our brain where declarative memory, procedural memory, and other types of memories are stored which can get affected too.

If you think that sleeping longer can improve your memory, researchers learned that sleeping more hours means that you are still getting poor sleep which can still have an effect on the relationship between sleep and memory.

Another thing that sleep experts are considering is the two-way street that happens between sleep and memories. Sleep quality may have an effect on our memory as well as thinking while the brain changes that happen can trigger memory and thinking issues that prevent us from sleeping well at night.

How Sleep Affects Your Memory
Memory Loss Due To Sleep Deprivation

Memory Loss and Forgetfulness Due To Sleep Deprivation
How Sleep Affects Your Memory – Memory Loss and Forgetfulness Due To Sleep Deprivation

Sleep loss in the elderly, because of sleep apnea, insomnia, and the like, may cause a significant amount of memory loss as well as deterioration of the brain. According to the researchers at the University of California in Berkeley, those important brain waves are produced as we sleep which are needed in long-term memory storage. These brain waves deliver memories from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex for long-term storage.

Sleep deprivation prevents the transfer of important memories from the hippocampus to the long-term storage in our brain which triggers forgetfulness as well as difficulty in recalling information and names which can lead to diseases like Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s Disease is an age-related memory loss that can affect us as we age.

According to Matthew Walker, a sleep researcher at the UC Berkeley and associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, that we were often engaged in deep sleep when we were young which enabled us to keep important facts and information. However, as we age, the kind of sleep that we get deteriorates thus preventing our brain from recording and retaining information. Their research showed that the elderly, who were not getting enough hours of sleep compared to their younger counterparts, showed significant memory impairment the following day.

How does sleep affect memory? When sleep deprivation occurs, perhaps because of sleep-disordered breathing like apnea, stress, or other medical condition, our brain’s capability of processing and storing long-term memory becomes affected. And it’s not just the number of hours that matter when it comes to sleep and memory loss because too much or too little sleep will prevent us from consolidating our memories which can affect our ability to recall important details as needed. If you want to be able to protect your brain function, the best thing to do is to avoid sleep deprivation at all costs.

How Sleep Affects Your Memory
Memory Loss Due To Sleep Deprivation

Comprehensive easy to understand sleep health guides – see here

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