Sleep is essential for the brain to function properly and to store memories. Poor sleep affects memory consolidation by disrupting the normal process that relies on both NREM and REM sleep to build and retain memories. Studies have even found that people who lack sleep are at risk of forming false memories. Not only adults, but children also experience stronger memory consolidation after a good night's sleep.
Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on memory. Research has shown that people who are sleep deprived are less able to achieve accuracy in tasks they were able to complete the night before. Sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by the temporary cessation of the airways during sleep, may also be linked to depression and memory problems. Studies have found that mice who are deprived of sleep develop more deposits of a protein called beta amyloid in the brain compared to mice that are allowed to sleep normally.
It is important for everyone to strive for the optimal amount of night sleep, as too little or too much can have negative repercussions. In sleep without rapid eye movements, the brain produces waves from the middle frontal lobe, which can deteriorate with age and undermine the ability to enter deep sleep, which is crucial for storing memories. Studies have estimated that people who sleep underneath and those who sleep excessively were mentally two years older than women who closed their eyes seven to eight hours a night. The spine of dendrites belonging to neurons in the CA1 region of the hippocampus is significantly reduced in length and density due to lack of sleep.
This means that the brain does not have enough time to create new pathways for information it has recently learned, thus affecting how memories are consolidated. More than 900 million people worldwide live with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a subtype of the disorder that occurs when a physical blockage impedes the airways. It is clear that getting enough quality sleep is essential for proper memory consolidation and overall brain health. People should be aware of how important it is to get enough restful sleep every night in order to maintain their mental health.