Remember how our parents and teachers would nag at us about the importance of sleep before an important examination? As it turns out, they were right.
Feeling groggy the day after an all-nighter is not the only consequence of sleep deprivation. Turns out, sleep plays a huge role in your cognitive skills as well, more importantly, memory. Memory is a crucial part of how our mind works because it stores important information that helps to facilitate our planning and reasoning skills.
A team of sleep scientists, led by lead author Frida Rångtell, at the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University, investigated how sleep deprivation impacts working memory in adults.
They tasked 24 young adults to memorise a few eight-digit sequences in the morning after either a full night of sleep, or a full night of wakefulness. This simple experiment revealed that the female participants remembered fewer of the digits after a sleep-deprived night, and performed better after a full night of sleep.
More importantly, the females in the study group were unaware of their reduced memory skills. This lack of awareness could eventually lead to decreased memory efficiency in women. If you have a job that’s dependent on your memory skills (chances are, you do), it’s time to step up on your sleep habits.
Sleep deprivation is harmful as it affects our mental, physical and even emotional stability. In order to successfully store and retrieve important memories, make sure to snooze sufficiently. A restful sleep provides optimal conditions for your brain to consolidate and process information for long-term storage. Plus, did you know that sleeping late could also be adding years to your face?
If you frequently work on presentations in the wee hours of the morning, those efforts will go to waste later on in the day, because the lack of sleep has not given your brain the necessary time to consolidate all the information memorised.
This, naturally, affects your work performance and might make it look like good at your job, although you have spent the whole night working on the presentation. This will, in turn, affect your chances at getting that pay raise or promotion.
So do your mind and body a favour by choosing to snooze, so you won’t lose – your memory, that is!
Text: Divyata Raut / Shape Singapore / May 2018
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