Good learning always happens when your mind is at peace. And for that better sleep is very important. A person can get better sleep when his or her body is relaxed, not caffeinated, and much more. There are other reasons as well that can interrupt or reduce the quality of good sleep. These reasons can be related to sleep problems or issues like snoozing, sleep insomnia, etc. that is why, while getting enough sleep you need to know why sleep is important and how your body gets affected by not getting better sleep. And your sleep affects your brain health which somehow has negative effects on learning and memory.
As we have already discussed sleep, some things contribute to good sleep and also some elements can disrupt sleep quality as well. Now we are talking about sleep quality therefore, we are considering factors that affect them. These factors can be related to sleep issues or they might relate to other external factors. Now, good quality sleep is very important because good quality sleep results in better learning.
Sleep plays an important role in learning, after all. Without proper sleep when you wake up your body will need rest, which results in inadequate performance. This performance can be in physical form as well as mental form. Now when we consider the mental form, it means that things are related to the mind. That is how sleep is directly related to mental as well as physical performance. Thus, you need the right amount of restful sleep for optimal performance when it comes to memory, motivation, mood, and more.
What is the link between Sleep, Learning, and Memory?
Let’s just understand this with this example; you attended a class, with very good illustrations, examples and all of your concepts are cleared for that particular topic but you haven’t taken any sort of notes, and as soon as you leave that class after sometimes you just remember the fragments of it. That is how improper sleep affects the human brain. You woke up and still you are feeling tired and your mood is not good. And because of this now you are not at your optimal performance. Thus we can say sleep is the secret sauce, so to speak, for locking in new things you learn throughout the day and linking newly formed memories to existing ones. Although future research may help experts better understand the mechanisms at work behind the scenes, existing evidence suggests sleep can have a major impact on learning and memory.
Learning and memory get affected by sleep in two major ways:
- Sleep promotes memory consolidation, a key factor in understanding new information.
- Sleep deprivation can hurt concentration and focus, making it tough to learn new things.
When we talk about learning and remembering new information, we come to know that learning and remembering take place in three separate stages:
- Acquisition – acquisition happens when you come across new information
- Consolidation – consolidation happens when processes in your brain help stabilize learned information
- Recall – recall happens when you access learned information after your brain has stored it.
Note: Acquisition and recall happen while you’re awake. Whereas, memory consolidation happens when you are in sleep (during sleep) or we can say when the neural connections that help develop lasting memories become stronger.
What will happen if you do not get enough sleep?
So, what will happen if we do not get enough sleep? It directly affects our consolidated memory. In simple words, the information we acquire while we are awake throughout the day will not be retained because of sleep. That is why lack of sleep can take a toll on your memory and concentration. Apart from this lack of Sleep can have plenty of unwanted effects as well. These effects include mood changes, increased risk of high blood pressure, changes in appetite and weight, etc.
That is why without proper sleep, you are not able to properly concentrate, give your attention or focus on anything. And when you cannot concentrate, or focus you find it very difficult to acquire new information. Moreover, without proper sleep, you are not able to recall your memories properly. This happens because the neurons that are working continuously do not get proper rest and because of that overworked neurons have a harder time coordinating information correctly. And at last, this will result in a lack of acquisition and retention of the learned information.
Slowly and gradually the deterioration in the acquisition of new information increased and the graph of learning new things will decrease steeply. And all this happens because of the inadequacy of sleep. Sleep deprivation is also responsible for affecting the hippocampus (a part of the brain that is mostly responsible for creating new memories).
Ways to improve your brain health for learning and memorization
As you can see, what can happen to your body when you don’t get enough sleep? And this sleep deprivation creates a hindrance to your learning and memorization. That is why you need to improve the quality of sleep so that it can benefit you to enhance your learning and memorizing ability. For enhancing your memory and learning you need to keep your brain healthy as the brain is linked to your sleep, learning, and memory. These three are interlinked to each other, so your brain health needs to be improved.
- Regular exercise – when you exercise regularly it increases your blood flow to your body including your brain. And this will help your memory to get sharp. Many studies show that those who are physically active are less likely to have a reduction in their mental health and also have a lower risk of mental issues like Alzheimer’s disease. That is why try to do a moderate aerobic activity like brisk walking for 150 minutes a week. If you don’t have time for doing this then you can do at least a 10-minute walk throughout the day.
- Meditation – meditation is one such practice that benefits your health in many ways. It is not only good for your body but it is good for your brain as well. When you meditate, it provides relaxation which can reduce your stress and pain, and also lower your blood pressure and even memory. Some studies show that meditation might increase the gray matter in the brain and improve spatial working memory. This memory can process information in your mind.
- Get plenty of sleep – as you see, how sleep is linked to learning and memory. That is why you need to get plenty of sleep. Sleep plays an important role in your brain health. Some studies show that sleep helps in clearing the protein in your brain which is abnormal and enhances memory and brain health. That is why you need to get at least 7 hours of sleep a day. Also, when you complete a sufficient amount of sleep you are more likely to learn and memorize well than those who are sleep deprived.
- Eat a Mediterranean diet – diet is a major role in your brain health. One such diet is known as the Mediterranean diet which is based on plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil. It includes less red meat and salt. Also, this diet includes less added sugar. Some studies show that those who regularly consume lots of added sugar may have poorer memory and lower brain volume than those who limit sugar.
- Limit alcohol- as alcoholic beverages can worsen your overall health in many ways and negatively impact your memory. As alcohol has neurotoxic effects on your brain, including reducing memory performance. Drinking in moderation is not a big issue but when you consume it regularly can damage your hippocampus, an area of your brain associated with memory.
Tips to get plenty of sleep
As you get quality sleep you can help with learning and memory. That is why you can take these steps to improve your sleep:
- Make a steady sleeping schedule to avoid daytime sleepiness.
- Create a relaxing and restful sleep environment; like a comfortable mattress and relaxing smells.
- Doing some light yoga and meditation before bedtime.
- Switch off electronic devices a couple of hours before bedtime to limit blue light exposure, which can stimulate your mind and keep you awake.
In conclusion, we can say that sleep plays a major role in learning and memory. Also, your sleeping habits can affect your body and brain in several ways which are not good for your overall health. And this somehow affects the learning and memorizing process. When you do not get enough sleep it can drain your energy, and because of this, you face trouble in storing and remembering things you learned while awake. That is why you need to improve your brain health in different ways so that your learning and memorizing ability also gets improved.
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