Adequate sleep is not only important for physical health, but also for the mind. Memory in particular is significantly influenced by sleep habits.
Sleep is important for healthy physical, emotional and cognitive functions. For example, poor sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, and poor sleep quality or regularly not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on memory, among other things.
Poor sleep in old age
With age, average sleep duration decreases and sleep disorders increase, which may also contribute to increased episodic memory deficits in older people, according to a recent study.
This already makes it clear how far-reaching the effects of sleep on the brain can be and how important it is to ensure healthy sleep, even in old age, in order to counteract the natural decline in memory.
Sleep keeps the brain healthy
Another research study found that not getting seven hours of regular sleep has a significant negative impact on overall cognitive performance.
The team reports that sleep is important for cognitive function and helps keep the brain healthy. This is due to the fact that waste products are eliminated from the brain during sleep. So it doesn’t seem surprising that cognitive performance is negatively affected by too little sleep.
In this study, the experts also point out that the likelihood of sleep problems increases with increasing age and that the quantity and quality of sleep can worsen.
Sleep disorders drive cognitive decline in old age
The researchers assume that the sleep disorders mentioned above promote cognitive decline in old age and even promote psychiatric disorders. Sleep duration in particular appears to have a major influence on cognition. It’s not just about not enough sleep, but also about sleeping for too long.
Cognitive problems due to disturbed deep sleep
Sleeping too short and too long was found to affect processing speed, visual attention, memory and problem-solving ability, the team reports. The researchers cite disturbed deep sleep as a possible reason for the cognitive decline associated with sleep.
If possible, sleep seven hours a night
According to the experts, the optimal amount of sleep to maintain cognitive performance from middle age onwards was seven hours per night. Participants who slept less or more than seven hours per eight suffered significantly more symptoms of anxiety and depression and generally felt worse.
Previous studies have already shown that there is a connection between interrupted sleep patterns and increased inflammation levels, which indicates a susceptibility to age-related diseases in older people, the researchers add.
What happens in the brain during sleep?
A third independent study also found that the brain transfers memory content from the hippocampus to the cerebral cortex during sleep, thereby creating space in short-term memory.
According to the researchers, memory generally stores information in two special regions of the brain, the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. The hippocampus is primarily responsible for the short-term absorption of new information, whereas the cerebral cortex stores large amounts of information for a long time.
It was shown that repeated learning exercises create long-term memory traces. However, according to the team, whether this content is stored permanently independently of the hippocampus depends crucially on sleep.
Make sure you get enough and restful sleep
Taken together, the results make it clear that healthy sleep of the right duration is extremely important for cognition and memory. Sleep disorders and lack of sleep can promote cognitive problems, especially in old age, but poor sleep also affects memory at a young age. (as)