First Blog : Sleep and Memory

sleeping and learning

One day, I had a final exam for one of the last classes of my university, and I had a lot of important information in each
chapter, which I had to remember in my mind very well. I got tired because I spent all day studying.  I thought that I could not remember anything that I read. I was worried and I asked my teacher to give me advice that may help me. My teacher said, “Review your information before you go to bed and then review them again after you wake up in the morning.” I did and I got a great result. Waddington (2009),

“The best times to review information are right before you go to sleep and right when you wake up. This is so for three reasons. First, in sleep the brain secretes chemicals that cement memories. Second, forgetting happens because information we learn later knocks out information that is already in our heads. Third, most forgetting happens because our heads are already full of information and have trouble packing more in.”

This means that, through this method, sleeping after learning will help to increase retention of the information for a long time in our minds. According to Gais (2006),

“Sleep is most effective when it follows within a few hours after learning without longer periods of intervening wakefulness. Interestingly, the influence of sleep on memory seems to be distinctly greater than that of the length of the retention period, at least in the 24–48 h timeframe investigated here.”

Also said, “sleep after learning enhances long-term retention in humans.” This means that during sleep the brain arranges and organizes the information gained through studying and retains the information for long periods. This is very interesting to me. From that day, this became my habit for retaining information. Overall, according to Grohol (2008), “sleep is far, far more important than most of us realize and few of us appreciate.”

The question that comes to the mind is: how sleep effect on our memory? Through the video below, neuroscientist Ken Paller shows the connection between memory and sleep:


Gais, S., Lucas, B., & Born, J. (2006). Sleep after learning aids memory recall.Learning & Memory13(3), 259-262.

Waddington, T. (2009). Smarts: It’s not How Much You Learn That Matters. It’s How Much You Remember. Psychoology Today. Retrieved from

Grohol, J. (2008). While You Sleep, Your Brain Keeps Working. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2014, from

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3 thoughts on “First Blog : Sleep and Memory

  1. Sleep as a strategy for learning goes beyond retention of information when studying for an exam. Sleep researchers also link sleep to the maintenance and storage of long-term memory. That is, a good nights sleep allows for much of the information gained during the day to be processed.One possible explanation that I found in Santrock and Mitterer (2005) describes the function to occur in the cerebral cortex. During sleep, the brain does not have to be aware and busy with incoming information. Instead, the rest period allows for the processing of information and storage into long-term memory. This process happens during REM sleep.

    Amal described the process relative to information reviewed before and immediately after a good nights sleep. Unfortunately, according to Maas (1998), 50% of the American population is sleep deprived. Imagine, the missed opportunities for learning due to this experience. For the adult learner, consideration of the implication of their sleep hygiene on their performance as a student should be a priority.

    Zbigniew Kowalewski

  2. sleep and memory is very interesting. As you have stated the lack of sleep does affect our memories especially short term memories. A question I ask is if this is so, then how do soldiers on combat missions, as an example, accomplish thier mission and in the face of a very rapidly changing environment. They make split second decissions that affect lives while working on only very short peorids of sleep. Thier training tests thier ablitity to do so and in specialized units like the Navy Seals and Rangers, sleep deprivaiton is used to break them and get rejected from the unit. “Ranger students conduct about 20 hours of training per day, while consuming two or fewer meals daily totaling about 2,200 calories (9,200 kJ), with an average of 3.5 hours of sleep a day.” (Wikipedia) The purpose is to create strees and measure how they perform before they go into combat. I think people can learn to function with less sleep and perform at acceptable levels. Might be interesting to follow up on.

    Brian Carter

  3. I completely agree with the points discussed in this blog post. I too find that I am most successful on exams when I complete my study before bed, get a good night’s sleep, and then review the information again in the morning before the exam. I am able to recall the information much better when I study this way. The times when I stayed up too late studying and did not get enough sleep, my grades were often lower than when I followed better study habits. I have some friends who procrastinate when it comes to study, and they always seem to stay up almost all night before an important examination. They tell me that they often have difficulty during the test to remember all of the information; one friend even fell asleep on their exam paper. It is better to go to bed at an earlier time and then do a brief review of the material in the morning, as the information will be fresh in your mind.
    Thank you
    Rsha alharthi

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