The importance of sleep on memory

by dhend2 on December 6, 2014 - 12:04am

The research article “How Sleep Improves Memory” discusses the findings of researches at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In the study they conducted, twelve young adults were taught a series of finger movements. Afterwards, the individuals were given a twelve hour period in which they either rested or stayed awake. They were then tested on their ability to recall the finger movements while an MRI measured activity level in the brain. The researchers found that the individuals that slept were able to recall information faster, more accurately, and with less stress/anxiety. This is because sleep allows us to shift memories into the storage areas of the brain.

The study and its findings show the large importance of sleep. Our short-term memories that we gather throughout the day are forgotten quickly. In order for an individual to remember something long-term, the memory must be stored in a different area of the brain. This process is called memory consolidation, and can only occur during sleep. This means that a consistent and healthy amount of sleep is essential. It may be especially important for college students that need to remember a large amount of learning material. In recent years, there has been a growing trend, especially in young adults, to deprive oneself of sleep during the week and then try to “catch up” on their sleep during the weekends. The research demonstrates an individual cannot follow this habit and still learn effectively. Too many college students view a full nights rest as more of a luxury than a necessity. I believe this derives from a lack of understanding of how important sleep is in order for the brain to function effectively.

As a college student, I am equally as guilty as my peers for not getting enough sleep, and then trying to catch up on the weekends. While in theory it is easy to get enough sleep, it is harder to do so in practice. When I am both working and going to school full-time, I find it hard to manage my time effectively so that I can hand in my assignments on time without sacrificing sleep. It’s hard for me to estimate how long an assignment is going to take for me to complete and the amount of work due at a given time is always different. Some days I might end up needing 10 hours for homework and some nights I don’t have any work to complete. I would suggest a follow-up study for this that addresses the need for great time management skills in order for students to complete their assignments and still get enough sleep. Areas they might like to address could include the habits and strategies of students that excel academically while still getting enough sleep. What characteristics are associated with both successful academic performance and healthy sleeping habits?

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. (2005, June 29). Study Shows How Sleep Improves Memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2014 from


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