How does lack of sleep affect your memory?

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It’s no secret anymore that a good night sleeps it’s a great remedy for mental freshness as wells the whole body relief. This is because sleep allows your whole body to rest and relax relieving any tension and exhaustion. At the same time, sleep is vital for your brain and the power to learn and recall.

As you sleep, your body relaxes as the brain is constantly processing all the day time information while converting them to memory. Therefore, if you are deprived of sleep, you are at great risk of suffering from health conditions linked to lack of sleep.

Some of these health complications from lack of sleep include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and impaired memory. There are also other health conditions we’ve not mentioned here but our main focus is on memory.

How lack of sleep affects your memory
This might not be news to you if you’ve spent one time in your school days cramming the whole night for a test only to wake up and realize you can’t remember the last thing you read late in the night. Hence, without good night sleep, you will wake up with a brain that is foggy, impaired judgment, and hindered motor skills.

But it’s very clear by now that lack of sleep has a negative effect on your brain. But to have a better understanding of how lack of sleep affects your memory, the following article touches on the various effects of sleep deprivation on the performance of your brain.

How does lack of sleep affect your memory?
We can all agree on one thing, after a terrible night with a lack of enough sleep, we often wake up with an off mental feeling of distraction. But in reality, do you understand the various means the lack of sleep affects your mental performance?

It’s difficult or quite impossible to distinguish cognitive skills that are independent of sleep influence. And that’s why lack of enough sleep is very lethal to your brain. But thanks to recent studies on the relation of sleep and memory, we now understand the relation between sleep and brain. It is very clear that deprivation of sleep affects the brain function from the cellular level.

Generally, we all have neural cells in billions. Each of these neural cells is vital for collection, processing and decision making when it comes to information. However, lack of sleep compromises the normal performance of these cells as well as communication among them. This is according to the scientific findings of UCLA.

Brain cells that are less robust aren’t the only major effect of sleep deprivation. There have been recent scientific studies that have shed more light on the effect of lack of sleep on the brain function. Some of them include:

The disruption of hormones level, hence affecting energy, mood, and thoughts. Some of these hormones include dopamine, serotonin, and Cortisol.

Some of the keys areas in the brain are left in a constant state of activation

Activation of some genes that affect the optimum activity of the brain. Considering every person has a unique genetic makeup, the effect of lack of sleep on functions of the brain is also the same. Therefore, some people will receive more impact on negative moods and cognitive effects than others.
But that is not all; we still have loads of information to learn how lack of sleep is linked to compromise on health and performance of the brain. But what you know by now about memory effects poor night sleep and the more you are going to learn, it’s clear that plenty of sleep is a great priority.
Below are other cognitive effects of sleep deprivation on brain performance:

Inability to focus well
General focus and attention are quite sensitive to sleep deprivation effects. As you may know or have experienced before, it’s hard to focus on a task after the lack of enough sleep. It’s also quite unfortunate that a single night of insufficient sleep always results in a series of nights with insufficient sleep. This, in turn, results in chronic debts of sleep and hence a continuous compromise on attention.

According to recent studies and research, about 75% of persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), may have an underlying chronic sleep disorder. And the source is mainly circadian rhythm disruption.

Well, attention is all about concentration and focus on a particular task/tasks. This means your ability to remain concentrated on a task long enough to achieve meaningful progress. To the majority of us, attention is a key factor to both senses of purpose and performance in work or away. Therefore when one experiences a lack of sleep, the focus becomes harder to attain.

Slow reaction time
Don’t get this wrong; when we speak of focus, it’s not all about thoughtful and huge tasks at hand, but what’s vital at the moment. Do you still recall the sluggish neural cells we discussed earlier? Scientific studies found that lack of sleep reduced the performance of these neural cells.

This means the inability to take in visual data, translate and process into conscious thoughts. Also, studies indicate that sleeplessness dulls reaction time as much as the drinking effects of alcohol.

Generally, fast reaction is crucial to us as well as people around us when it comes to safety. Therefore, sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on everyone’s reaction time.

Hard time in making and storing of memory
In this case, let’s learn how a good sleep in middle age is crucial for cognitive and memory health in the coming years. According to studies, insufficient sleep during the middle ages contributes greatly to cognitive and memory decline decades later. And this also includes insomnia.

But don’t become lazy and sleep for more than 9 hours just to build a better future for your memory. Too much sleep is also distractive to your memory and cognitive performance and especially if it’s more than 9 hours.

Therefore, sleep is vital in all the phases of memory acquisition, storage and even recall. All memory phases are complex and often rely on some parts of the brain which gets affected by insufficient sleep.

With poor sleep, learning and the acquisition of new memories become a hard cognitive and memory task. At the same time, poor sleep greatly interferes with your brain’s ability to recall what you have learned.
This is whether you made the memories are from a month old or over a decade ago. And this is why you will easily forget your high school crush name or a password you created in the past due to insufficient sleep.

Of course, while you are awake, memory acquisition and recall still takes place. What actually happens when you are asleep is consolidation: the memory’s middle stage. Memory consolidation is the final process of storing memories for long-term recall. This is a multi-phase complex process that your brain undertakes while sleeping.

The memory consolidation has key functions which include:
The stabilization and storage of memories to enable you to recall later.
Through memory storage, the bandwidth is freed up to enable you to tackle the following day tasks. And this includes the acquisition of new memories through exposure and learning.

During sleep, there are several stages that take place. These stages are vital in memory consolidation. They include deep sleep, slow-wave sleep and finally REM sleep. According to studies, REM sleep results in the brain generating electrical bursts also referred to as sleep spindle. This stage is very critical in-memory storage and multiple stages without REM sleep also compromise memory making, storage and recall.

Poor Judgment and Decision making
Prefrontal Cortex is part of the brain responsible for planning and making complex decisions. In the process, you are able to make complex and nuance judgment which balances reward and risk. This process is hit hard when you have a lack of sleep. Therefore, you are likely to become more impulsive when making a decision.

And as you well know, an impulsive decision is likely to favor reward immediately without comparing it with risk. Also, there is a higher chance that you will engage in reckless behavior according to studies done.
Therefore, when you have insufficient sleep, that self-control that is linked prefrontal cortex gets lost. And this can be consequential to everything from health, to work to relationships and so much more.

Also, insufficient sleep not only affects sound decision making but also self-awareness when making those decisions. Additionally, there is an intriguing study that connects the lack of sleep to higher chances of cheating. Again, this is similar to the lack of the ability to have self-control when doing the wrong thing.

Less creativity
It’s quite fascinating how the science of sleep compromises someone’s creativity. When we are unfocused, fatigued and distracted due to lack of enough sleep, our cognitive abilities become sluggish and less creative.
One may even fail to come up with an inspired work solution, mother’s birthday gift only to get all the answers when asleep. This is how mysterious creative thoughts can become. It’s a moment when your mental fatigue just creates an innovative thinking pathway, and it happens to everyone.

So, does this mean sleep deprivation is a gateway to innovations? Definitely no! On the contrary, having a REM sleep appears to be very vital for inspiration and creative thinking. Take note, REM is that sleeping stage where you are actively and vividly dreaming.

Throughout the night, you experience REM in sections every time you have a complete cycle of sleep. But as your night gets longer, so does REM periods in progress. And the heaviest REM kicks in the final stages of night sleep. Therefore, when you cut short your night sleep, you risk losing REM creative boosting.

Rather than limiting your sleeping period, divert all your attention to the time when you are feeling groggy in the course of the day. to many people, this occurs early in the morning when they are awake or late in the evening. During this time, allow your mind to roam and relax a bit. Then take note of the surprising innovation that will pop in your mind.

Best Sleeping tips
– Before getting to bed avoid consumables such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
– Ensure you sleep and wake up every day at the same time.
– Engage in regular exercise; however, ensure your timing is not close to bedtime. According to experts, you need at least three hours of rest after exercise before sleeping.
– Take your time unwinding and relaxing by taking a bath or even reading a book. Ensure you avoid activities that will create tension.
– Don not use your computer, smartphone, or even watch TV late at night, it will prevent you from sleeping.
– If you are staying in a noisy neighbourhood, sound blocking accessories or machines will be handy for great night sleep.
– Create a perfect sleeping environment that is clean, cool, dark and very comfortable.
– Have your meal three hours before heading to bed.

Final Remarks
The bottom line: when you cut shot your sleeping cycles and deprive your body enough sleep, you risk losing more than what you are saving for. Therefore lack of enough periods of sleep compromises cognitive and memory performance which we all rely on for sound judgment.

Therefore, whether you spend your night studying for a test or doing a work project, be sure your performance on the following day will be very poor. And this all touches on your brain’s ability to recall what you learned when burning your midnight oil.

This is because your brain needs enough sleeping time to store what you’ve learned for long term retrieval. And without enough sleep, you risk losing all that you learned while staying up in the night as well as loss of creativity that will come in handy during your daytime tasks.

But that’s not all, continuous deprivation of sleep will hit hard on your health creating hard to cure conditions. Therefore, to succeed in life, we need solid planning, sound judgment, creativity, and recall. But you can have all these with a stable mind through having enough sleep.