2322 196th St. SW, Suite 201 Lynnwood, WA 98036 | Call Us Today! 206-316-8286

DSCN1769.jpeg
Slide 2
PlayPause
Slider

Not a Wink of Sleep: How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Memories

In a recent study conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the study involving mice showed how sleep deprivation and other factors that disrupt the sleep cycle could inhibit the brain’s ability to form new memories. With somewhere between 50 and 70 million Americans suffering from a sleep disorder, sleep deprivation could be significantly more prevalent among this population. The Johns Hopkins study states that the "key purpose of sleep is to recalibrate the brain cells responsible for learning and memory so the animals can "solidify" lessons learned and use them when they awaken,"  and anything that impacts the sleep cycle could change the trajectory of human memory.



A good night’s sleep is more important than most people think, and the amount of sleep you need varies by age. According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), this is the amount of sleep you need based on your age:

  • Adult: 7 – 9 hours
  • Teenager: 8 – 10 hours
  • Child 6 – 12 years: 9- 12 hours
  • Child 3 – 5 years:  10 – 13 hours (including naps)
  • Child 1 – 2 years: 11 – 14 hours (including naps)
  • Infants 4 -12 months: 12 – 16 hours (including naps)

Many factors can disrupt sleep, including caffeine consumption, stress or something as simple as an uncomfortable mattress, but for many people, grappling with a sleep disorder causes them to lose sleep. One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea. The ASA estimates that 25 million adults in the U.S. live with this condition. Sleep apnea, characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, is a serious health condition, and it can lead to sleep deprivation. The numbers on sleep deprivation are just as troubling, with the ASA numbers showing that 37% of 20-39 year-olds report short sleep duration and 40% of 40-59 year-olds also reporting short sleep duration. The dangers of sleep deprivation include hallucinations and delirium and can lead to unsafe situations. We hear how limiting sleep can impact our health, but it’s rare to hear how a lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can impact our memories. Both our ability to form new memories and to retain old ones. And yet, sleep is undoubtedly crucial for many reasons. Dr. David Buck, a neuromuscular dentist in Washington state, stresses the importance of quality sleep and how sleep disorders like sleep apnea are problematic.

"Sleep apnea is a disease that affects every area of life, and it’s a tremendous problem in our population," Buck said. "Sleep has multiple functions that are necessary for longevity and for quality of life. We secrete growth hormone during sleep, and we re-organize our cognitive patterns."

When we aren’t sleeping long enough and sleep well, as the Johns Hopkins study suggests, our memories, both past, and future, are in jeopardy. The study confirms "the idea that the mouse and presumably the human brain can only store so much information before it needs to recalibrate...[and]...without sleep and the recalibration that goes on during sleep, memories are in danger of being lost."1 Additionally, "scientists believe memories are encoded through these synaptic changes...[and]...when neurons are "maxed out" and constantly firing, they lose their capacity to convey information, stymying learning and memory."1

While more research still needs to be done to understand what length sleep deprivation impacts human memory fully, the John Hopkins study has no doubt shed new light on the subject. As the study suggests, "the bottom line is that sleep is not really downtime for the brain. It has important work to do then, and we in the developed world are shortchanging ourselves by skimping on it."1

 

Saying a Mouthful: How Our Ancestors Teeth Tell An...
A Waste of Breath: How Mouth-breathing is Hurting ...

Contact Us

Your Name(*)
Please let us know your name.

Your Email(*)
Please let us know your email address.

Subject(*)
Please write a subject for your message.

Message(*)
Please let us know your message.

Captcha(*)
Captcha
Refresh Invalid Input