Sleep Strengthens Memory and Immune System

September 15th, 2011 by Dr. Keith Nemec

Sleep Strengthens MemorySleep seems critical to memory, particularly the ability to recall recently learned fact and events, researchers report.

“We sought to explore whether sleep has any impact on memory consolidation,” said lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School’s Center for Sleep and Cognition. “Specifically, the type of memory for facts and events in time.”

“Sleep had a benefit for the consolidation and strengthening of memory,” Ellenbogen said. “It actively does so; it’s not a passive process. The brain actively engages memories and leads them to be strengthened the next day, and it’s a long-lasting benefit. The benefit was even larger than we were anticipating.”

Given these findings, the researchers believe that sleep is important to building and maintaining memories. “Sleep is not an inactive state. That’s an obsolete concept,” Ellenbogen said. “The brain is doing lots of things during sleep, including consolidating memories. So you need to get it on a regular basis in order to maximize memory.”

One expert thinks this study shows that sleep is important in learning.

“Sleep specialists still do not know the overarching purpose of sleep,” said Dr. Robert D. Vorona, an associate professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk. “However, we do know that insufficient sleep is associated with negative alterations in both mood and performance.”

“This study suggests that parents of students would do well to recommend that their children both study hard and obtain sufficient sleep in order to maximize their academic performance,” he added.
-Current Biology.

Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec’s comments on Sleep Strengthens Memory and Immune System:

This study which was published in the issue Current Biology, showed that sleep seems critical to memory particularly the ability to recall recently learned facts and events, the researched showed. Also had indications that not only memory, but just general learning which this would support the fact that parents should make sure that children should get enough sleep for their academic performances. As we know it is critical for health and healing and as we have stated before.  If we don’t get enough sleep, we become more disease prone. We also tend to become more prone to being overweight, have weakened immune systems, and are more at increased risk at cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sleep is vital to your immune system and your immune system is what prevents you from getting cancer. All aspects of our health decrease when we don’t get enough sleep, and that is as close to 3.5 hours before midnight and 6 hours after midnight. This study was just confirming the fact that it not only affects your physical body, lack of sleep affects your mind, it affects your memory and it affects your ability to learn. So, if we just adopt the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health™ and understand the importance of sleep as one of those 7 Basic Steps; we will be as healthy as we were designed to be.

Also remember, if for any reason one of these areas have to be decreased, like sleep, whether you are a night shift worker, or someone that has demands that they just can’t get the 9.5 hours of sleep, the more hours before midnight you get, it has a double effect on health and healing of the body, also if the sleep has to be decreased short term, if you can maximize the other 6 of the 7 Basic Steps this will help the body absorb the stress from the lack of sleep and minimize the chances of it going into more symptoms, conditions or diseases.

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