1. Sleep Helps Us Learn
When you learn a new task or piece of information, several complicated things have to happen in the brain. Even things like “muscle memory” that we don’t usually think of as occurring in the brain are mediated by brain processes. The catch? Your brain has a lot to do while you sleep. Nighttime, unconscious functions include “consolidation”, where your brain sifts through the information acquired during the day and “files” it for future use.
2. Sleep Helps Our Memories
Sleep can also help the brain retain memories. A well-rested person is more vigilant than someone getting by on poor sleep, which translates into better concentration and attention. Additionally, sleep helps move information from “short-term” or “working” memory into the brain’s “long-term” memory system. (If you’re wondering why you have difficulty remembering new acquaintance’s phone numbers but you still have the lyrics memorized to songs you learned in grade school, this phenomenon explains it.) Without adequate rest, however, this brain function can’t happen.
3. Improving Your Sleep For Better Learning
So how can you improve your sleep, if your learning isn’t where you’d like it to be? Here are a few tips:
Don’t pull an all-nighter. Despite the iconic image of college students drinking coffee and studying all night, it’s actually better to study steadily in the time before a test, then go to bed early enough to allow your brain to process the information.
Don’t put up with an inferior mattress. A worn-out or uncomfortable mattress can cause you to toss and turn too much during the night, which can prevent you from spending enough hours in restorative “deep” sleep.
Don’t overindulge. Alcohol and caffeine are the enemies of a good night’s rest. If you have sleep issues, skip the wine with dinner and the after-dinner coffee.
Your brain is an amazing organ, but it can only work with what you give it. Don’t shortchange yourself: get to bed early tonight, and enjoy a clear head and great outlook tomorrow!
How Sleep Helps Memory And Learning – www.webmd.com
7 Ways Spring Can Affect Your Sleep Quality – www.cnn.com