Sleeping problems have become increasingly common in our society. Most people feel distressed when they don’t get the sleep that they need, but they rarely consider the long-term consequences. Recent research has shown that poor quality sleep can lead to dementia and other memory problems. You will want to address any sleeping problems that you are suffering from to avoid this risk.
Link Between Memory Problems and Sleep Quality
A recent study found that receiving adequate sleep is essential to make sure that blood flows to the brain. This is essential to make sure that the brain works properly.
Researchers have witnessed that sleep deprivation could lead to long-term memory problems in the past, but they never fully understood the link. The new study shed some light on the topic. It found that people that received plenty of sleep were able to process things more quickly and had an easier time recalling events. The researchers said that the information showed that people continued to process new information during their sleep, which is necessary to create long-term memories.
Scientists want to conduct additional studies to better understand the relationship between sleep and memory. To complete their research, they will need to first understand the process of developing memories. They still don’t fully understand it, but have developed a basic overview:
- The subject acquires new information.
- The subject processes the information and stores it in the brain.
- The subject develops the ability to recall the information as needed.
All three processes are necessary for developing long-term memories. Dr. Robert Stickgold of Harvard University said that the first and third process obviously take place while we are awake. However, research shows that memories are processed and stabilized during REM sleep. This would explain why people that don’t get enough sleep have difficulty formulating long-term memories.
Make REM Sleep a Priority
Scientists are still trying to understand the link between memory and sleep, but the relationship is pretty clear. You will need to make promoting sleep one of your top priorities. However, you shouldn’t expect that sleeping longer will mean that you are going to improve cognitive functioning. Your goal should be maximizing REM sleep. Here are some things that you will need to keep in mind:
- Regularly oversleeping can be counterproductive, because your brain will have trouble getting into REM sleep the following night.
- Making your body as comfortable as possible is key. You need to keep your room at a comfortable temperature, sleep on a comfortable mattress (read more about the differences of the Personal Comfort Bed versus the Sleep Number Bed) and try to minimize stress.
- Limit substances that can affect sleep quality, including alcohol, caffeine and unnecessary prescription medications. Sleep aids such as Ativan tend to make it very difficult to enter deep sleep, so should only be taken in the short-run while trying to reeducate your brain to enter deep sleep.
There are a number of things that you can do to enhance the quality of your sleep. Sleep hygiene should be one of your top priorities to boost your memory and other cognitive functions.
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