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Losing Sleep? You're Losing Memories Too

Two interesting new studies on sleep in Nature have found links between getting a good night's sleep and having a good memory.

The studies find that creating a memory is only one part of a process your brain uses to store information. Once that memory is created, it needs to get "stored" in the brain's memory areas. That seems to happen at night, when you have a sound sleep.

Studies found that students who tried to learn something new, and then never had a chance to sleep well that evening, were much less able to remember the information on subsequent days. The students who learned a new lesson, then had a solid night of sleep, did much better on tests - both those directly involving the information learned as well as those on related topics.

The scientists are not yet sure if the brain is "reorganizing and resorting" the memories while it sleeps, or if the brain is deciding which memories are important to keep and putting those into a special location for retrieval later. Further studies are planned to learn more about how the brain works with memories while the person is asleep.

If you are learning new information during the day - or even if you just want to have a better memory - it's important you get a good night's sleep!

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