The Effects of Sleep on Learning

Learning, sleeping, and memory are not completely understood. However, based on studies, the quantity and quality of sleep can have a profound impact on a person’s learning and memory.

Research suggests that sleep can help in the learning and memory process:

  • Firstly, a person deprived of sleep cannot focus his or her attention optimally, and as a result, cannot learn efficiently.
  • Secondly, sleep aids in the consolidation of memory, which is essential in learning new information.

Even if the exact mechanisms are unknown, memory and learning are described with three functions:

  • Acquisition, which represents the introduction of new information into the brain.
  • Consolidation, which refers to the processes by which the memory becomes stable.
  • Recall, which is the ability to access the information after it has been restored.

Each of these functions is necessary for the memory to function properly. Recall and acquisition only occur during wakefulness, but research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep by strengthening the neural connections that form the memories. Even if there is no consensus on how sleep makes the process possible, a number of researchers think that brainwaves during sleep are associated with the formation of memory.

Sleep researchers found out about the role of sleep in memory formation and learning. There are two approaches. The first one is by looking at the different stages, as well as the changes in the duration of sleep, in response to learning a variety of new tasks. The second one is examining how sleep deprivation affects learning.

Sleep deprivation can be total (no sleep allowed), partial (early or late sleep is removed), or selective (specific stages of sleep are disrupted).

Sleep Stages and Different Types of Memory

sleep and memory

There are different types of memories that are formed in new learning situations.

In fact, scientists are studying whether there is a relationship between the various stages of sleep and the consolidation of different types of memories.

The earliest memory and sleep research focused on declarative memory or the knowledge of fact-based information. This is what you already know like what you had for lunch yesterday or what is the capital of the United Kingdom.

In a research study, individuals engaged in an intensive language course were observed to have an increased REM (or rapid-eye-movement) sleep. REM is the stage of sleep in which dreams are occurring frequently.

Scientists concluded that REM sleep played an important role in the acquisition of learned material. There are also studies that suggested that REM sleep is involved in declarative memory processes if the information is emotionally charged and complex, but not if emotionally neutral or the information is simple.

There are also some researches that focused on sleep and its role in procedural memory or the remembering of how to do something like playing the piano or driving a vehicle. REM sleep also plays an essential role in the consolidation of procedural memory.

The other aspects of sleep also play a major role in procedural memory: Motor learning may depend on the amount of lighter stages of sleep while visual learning may depend on the amount and timing of deep, slow-wave sleep (also known as SWS) and REM sleep.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

sleep deprivation

Another area where researches and studies focus is the impact of sleep deprivation on memory and learning.

If a person is sleep-deprived, his focus, attention, and vigilance drift. This makes it more difficult to receive and process information.

Without adequate rest and sleep, overworked neurons might no longer function to coordinate information properly. As a result, a person may lose the ability to access any learned information.

A person’s interpretation of events may also be affected. Since you no longer accurately assess the situation, plan correctly, and even choose the correct behavior once a problem arises, you may lose your ability to make sound decisions. Judgment may also become impaired.

Being chronologically tired, and reaching the point of exhaustion and fatigue, due to lack of rest and sleep, might mean that you are less likely to perform well. Your muscles are not rested, your brain’s neurons are not fired optimally, and your organs are not synchronized.

As you lack focus due to sleep deprivation, it might even result in injury and accidents.

Low quality of sleep as well as sleep deprivation can also negatively impact the mood, which is essential for learning. The frequent changes in mood affect a person’s ability to acquire and remember new information. 

Achieving a Good Night’s Sleep Starts with Your Pillow

bamboo pillow

Did you know that you can get a good night’s sleep simply by changing your pillows and beddings?

Using clothing, pillow, and bedding that have natural wicking and cooling properties can help regulate your body’s core temperature.

This is why you should invest in a quality cooling pillow that can help keep your head cool, like a Bamboo Pillow. A bamboo pillow can draw heat away from your head — this makes the body’s temperature regulate more effectively.

When it comes to choosing the best pillow to use, choose one that holds your head snugly while supporting your shoulders and neck. Most of the sleep problems others are suffering from is caused by the discomfort in the neck and shoulders, due to muscle strain and poor circulation. Getting a good pillow can help you reach deep sleep.

The bamboo pillow is flexible, creating the perfect resting nook that can cradle your head and support the curves of your shoulder and neck. When the body gets the contour that it needs, it can relax well.

As a result, this can reduce fatigue and the general strain, letting you get quality sleep. The set also comes with a removable and washable pillow cover to keep it clean. Plus, the pillow is hypoallergenic.

It is clear that having a good night’s sleep has a strong impact, not only on the body but also to a person’s memory and learning capabilities.