How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Memory


Getting enough sleep does more than just improve the way we feel. Sleep is a time where our brains consolidate memories. So, when we don’t get enough sleep, our ability to remember things can suffer.

While there is still a lack of scientific understanding of the link between sleep and memory, research shows that sleep is a time where our memories are collected, stored and entrenched.

In this article we explore the link between sleep and memory, and what you can do to make sure you’re getting enough of it.

So What’s the Link?

To really understand the link between sleep and memory is to get under the skin of how our brains store information. Sleep is necessary to consolidate memories (AKA – to make them stick in our minds), so they can be recalled in future.

Memory can be broken down into three key parts – acquisition, consolidation and recall. Both acquisition and recall take place when we are awake, however, consolidation only happens when we sleep. When your body rests, the brain is busy compartmentalising all of the information and detail it stored during the previous day. This consolidation is thought of as moving short term memories to long term memories, as well as ‘backing up’ knowledge to make way for new learning.

Scientists continue to research the link between sleep and memory, however, there is still some way to go. Memories have been proven to form in light sleep, deep sleep and ‘rapid eye movement’ (REM) sleep, however, how well we store this information in each type of sleep has yet to be proven.

How Much Sleep do I Need?

Sleep plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing – after all, we spend a third of our lives asleep. Its common knowledge that a good night’s sleep is important, but so few of us prioritise a healthy sleep pattern.

We all know what it feels like to be sleep deprived – perhaps you struggle to get going in the morning, or you can’t concentrate on a certain task. But prolonged sleep deprivation goes much deeper than that. A lack of quality sleep can lead to serious health problems, from hypertension to obesity and even diabetes.

What’s more, countless studies have shown that after just one night’s sleep, people perform better and are more ‘present’, whether that’s at home, in the office, in the gym or doing things we enjoy, like concerts, or travel.

The amount of sleep your body needs varies depending on your age.

It is widely thought that children and teenagers need the most amount of sleep due to the amount of energy needed for development.

Babies through to young children should be getting a minimum of 14 hours sleep a day. Teenagers should aim to get 8 – 10 hours sleep, whereas adults should aim to get anywhere from 7 – 9 hours sleep a night. As we get older, the amount of sleep we need decreases, however, it is still recommended to get a full eight hours in our senior years.

Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

Getting enough sleep starts with prioritising our rest time. This is a part of self-care and should be taken seriously. If you’re someone that works better after a nap, carve out some time during the day to recharge. If you find you sleep better when in a routine, go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

Here are some tried-and-tested ways to sleep better:

Keep active. While your mind might be exhausted after a long day at the office, it’s important to ensure your body is getting a work out too. A tired body will increase the likelihood of deep sleep.

Avoid stimulants before bed. Try to avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes before bed as these disturb sleep.

Take time to unwind. If you struggle to fall asleep straight away, start by developing a before-bed routine. A warm bath, a hot (Decaffeinated drink) and some time away from screens are recommended.

Keep your bedroom tidy. A clean and tidy bedroom free from clutter can help you relax after a long day.

Avoid midnight snacks. It can be tempting to tuck into treats before bed, but the food we tend to go for (think cheese, chocolate) can be high in sugar, fat and dairy. Aim to finish eating 3 hours before you go to bed.

…and make your bed comfy. A quality bed frame, mattress, duvet and pillows play a huge role in how well you sleep. A tired, springy mattress is bad for posture, while old bedding can cause allergies. Mattresses should be changed every eight years to ensure they’re up to the job.

Get a Good Nights Sleep With The Sleep Shop

If you’re looking to upgrade your bedroom furniture, mattress or bedding, try The Sleep Shop. We understand how important it is to get a good night sleep, which is why we stock the very best bedroom furniture available.

We stock a huge range of quality mattresses to suit all preferences and sleep styles, from memory foam mattresses to pocket mattresses and even children’s mattresses.

If you need help picking the right bedding, pop into our retail outlets located across Lincolnshire. Here, you can try the beds for yourself, taking the guesswork out of shopping for a new mattress or bed frame.

Come in-store or shop online today.