Memory and Sleep

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The human brain requires rest (sleep) to remain healthy. Lack of sleep can hamper one’s memory, experts have learned.

Memory and Sleep


As studies of sleep learning as well as studies of so-called nondreamers have shown, the memory-recording processes of the brain seem to be switched off during sleep. In so-called nondreamers who, it has been demonstrated, actually do dream—this memory shutdown is simply more complete than it is for the rest of the population. Even people who remember their dreams every night only remember the last several dreams they had immediately before awakening. Dreams from the early and middle periods of sleep are permanently forgotten.

It has been hypothesized that dreams are easily forgotten because they are so incoherent. Another theory is that dreams are quickly forgotten because they contain repressed material that the conscious mind does not wish to remember. However, although these two factors probably do account for some forgetting, they are inadequate for explaining the extensive loss of dream content that occurs every morning upon awakening. The precise process has yet to be discovered, but there is almost certainly some sort of neurochemical mechanism that shuts down memory during sleep.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Many professionals who study sleep and its disorders can attest that the relationship between memory and sleep has been well established but the exact mechanisms involved in memory and sleep remain elusive.
"That means that for those individuals who experience both memory and sleep problems--such as the elderly, people with restless legs syndrome or individuals who experience sleep apnea and other episodic breathing disorders--treating sleep disorders may offer an avenue for addressing memory loss.