An important aspect of good brain health is getting adequate sleep.
Some information is more important that other. And when we get adequate sleep we store the information that is most important for our future.
We all take in huge amount of information every day, but what is important and what should be thrown away? New research indicates that all this gets sorted out in our sleep.
“Our results show that memory consolidation during sleep indeed involves a basic selection process that determines which of the many pieces of the day’s information is sent to long-term storage,” Born said. “Our findings also indicate that information relevant for future demands is selected foremost for storage.”
But then the researchers had to test if a reduction of sleep would alter the memory of useful information.
“The researchers set up two experiments to test memory retrieval in a total of 191 volunteers. In the first experiment, people were asked to learn 40 pairs of words. Participants in the second experiment played a card game where they matched pictures of animals and objects — similar to the game Concentration — and also practiced sequences of finger taps.
In both groups, half the volunteers were told immediately following the tasks that they would be tested in 10 hours. In fact, all participants were later tested on how well they recalled their tasks.
Some, but not all, of the volunteers were allowed to sleep between the time they learned the tasks and the tests. As the authors expected, the people who slept performed better than those who didn’t. But more importantly, only the people who slept and knew a test was coming had substantially improved memory recall.”
Take home message: Sleep can help you remember the information important to you and that is required in the future.