We all can agree that sleep is important to our overall health. We have learned through countless medical and scientific studies how sleep, or the lack thereof, affects us physically and emotionally. Some have even studied how sleep affects memory. From the Harvard based Nurses’ Health Study, we have learned that too little and too much sleep can affect our maintenance of memory later in life. Highlights from this study were discussed on Harvard Health Publications last year (LeWine, M.D., 2014)
Scientists are noticing a correlation between getting two hours less/more than the average recommendation is affecting brain processes. Sleep deprivation is known to cause problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and narrowing of blood vessels. These are obvious problems, considering the brain requires oxygen and sugar to function properly. And sleeping two hours more than one should results in “poor sleep quality” (LeWine, M.D., 2014).
Another view on sleep’s effects on memory poses that the offline reprocessing of memories during sleep is integral to their development and consolidation (Stickgold, 2005). Stickgold discusses several clinical considerations relating to sleep deprivation, among which are psychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. Another tidbit to consider regarding sleep, is that we humans perform various and manifold complex tasks, physically and mentally. Stickgold also suggests that “sleep contributes to the consolidation of uniquely human, complex cognitive procedural learning” (Stickgold, 2005).
So, the question: …. Sleep. But sleep 7 to 8 hours per day on average. More and less are not advised. There is a multitude of reliable information available to regular folks like you and me, in case you would like to learn more. Some links are provided here for your perusal.
LeWine, M.D., H. (2014, May 2). Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from Harvard Health Publications: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/little-sleep-much-affect-memory-201405027136
Stickgold, R. (2005, October 27). Sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Nature, 1282-1278. Retrieved July 28, 2015