Sleep is highly regarded by many individuals in the medical and scientific community as an essential component of brain function and performance. When an adequate amount of sleep is achieved during the night it can do wonders for the human brain and performance, but when it is not, it can lead to consequences. For most of us, it is not uncommon to sometimes hear the statement “to sleep on it” when it comes to making a decision or taking the time to sort through a situation that may require more logical, rational, or focused thinking. It is believed that sleeping might be able to help bring about some level of clarify and hopefully provide some insight on the issue at hand.
The researchers at the University of Bristol, have found that there may be some merit in this statement because their research was able to identify that sleeping helps to navigate, isolate, and sort the large amounts of experiences that an individual undergoes in any given day, and working to only fill the important information in the human memory. In addition, this new information provides further support for the benefits that can come from having a good night’s sleep because lack of adequate sleep can produce impaired mental function. The findings of these researchers were published in the Journal of Cell Reports which is shown to align with another article in Trends in Neuroscience that the replay of sleep activity that occurs in the hippocampus can help to support and improve the microscopic connection between active nerve cells. The selection of the daytime activity pattern can help in the sorting and retaining of those important information in the memory.
Other researchers have also come to believe that is finding is an important finding because it moves them even closer to understanding what occurs in the brain during the process of the consolidation of our memories during sleep. If brain activity is able to be successfully replayed during sleep this can have an impact on an individual’s emotional state during the learning process and also influence how people are taught to enable them to learn more effectively. It is only through ongoing research and studies into the relationship between memory and sleep can we begin to fully understand its benefits as well as its use in the management of treatment of sleep related dysfunctions.
EurekAlert (2016). Best to sleep on it: Brain activity patterns during sleep consolidate memory. Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-02/uob-bts021916.php
Atherton, LA, Dupret, D & Mellor, JR (2015). Memory trace replay: the shaping of memory consolidation by neuromodulation by in Trends in Neuroscience. 38, 560-70.
Author: Abimbola Farinde
Dr. Farinde is a healthcare professional who has gained experience in the field and practice of psychopharmacology/mental health, and geriatric pharmacy. She has worked with active duty soldiers with dual diagnoses of a traumatic brain injury and a psychiatric disorder providing medication therapy management and disease state management.