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It’s no secret that sleep is good for your health. What you might not know is that sleep is especially good for your memory. Below are some of the ways good sleep positively affects your memory.

If you want to remember something, you have to pay attention to it first. If you are sleepy, you cannot pay proper attention. In this way, you have to be well-rested to pay attention to information and remember it.

Why you keep falling asleep

There are two reasons why you may feel tired and have trouble paying attention. One would be because you have not had enough sleep while the other is awake for too many hours. Additionally, being awake at night when your circadian rhythm is trying to force you to sleep can make you lose attention hence difficulty remembering.

Caffeine, many people’s go-to solution for staying awake, fights the chemicals that pressure your brain to fall asleep. By doing this, effectively regains your attention and ability to remember. However, as is often the case, the effects of caffeine are temporary. It only delays the pressure to sleep, but it is eventually overwhelmed.

When you learn something new during the day, it is stored in the hippocampus, a part of your brain behind your eyes. The hippocampus can be likened to a computer’s RAM. It has limited storage, and when you get to the limit, you can either overwrite existing memory or fail to learn anything more.

Fortunately, this doesn’t normally happen. As you sleep at night, the synapses (connections between neurons) shrink or eliminate memories that you don’t need, like the clothes you wore two months ago or what you had for breakfast a fortnight ago. By sorting these memories according to importance, the brain frees up space in your hippocampus for fresh memories the next day.

Sleep and long term memory

Sleep also helps the brain consolidate memories you want to remember for a long time and transfer them from accessible memories to long-term memories. Skill-related and factual memories have shown better retention in a 12 hour period that involved sleep than one which didn’t.