Your Brain Builds Memories As You Sleep
Which means you should actually go to bed
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 6, 2014 1:20 PM CDT
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – As you sleep, your brain is actually forming new neural connections, helping you retain the things you learned during the day, according to a new study. Researchers in China and the US used advanced microscopy to peer inside the brains of mice who were learning a new skill. They found that those getting good amounts of sleep formed vastly more neural connections, the BBC reports.

Scientists have long believed sleep promoted memory, but they hadn't known precisely how. "Finding out sleep promotes new connections between neurons is new, nobody knew this before," one NYU professor says. "It really helps to make connections and that in sleep the brain is not quiet, it is replaying what happened during the day." The study reinforces yet again how important sleep is, amidst growing fears that society as a whole isn't getting enough of it. Two other recent studies on that score:

  • Researchers in Utrecht found that many people are simply "sleep procrastinating," delaying their bed times for essentially no reason, the Daily Beast reports. Researchers believe it's a "relatively modern phenomenon," born of our "electrical devices and the 24/7 entertainment industry." In other words, we're too busy staring at screens to sleep—and as Medical Daily points out, that artificial light can trick your brain into thinking it's daytime.
  • If you're looking to get more or better sleep, try working on your marriage. A new study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that couples are better at sleeping in sync—meaning they're awake or asleep at the same time—when the wife reported higher levels of marital satisfaction.

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
CasperImproved
Jun 6, 2014 10:14 PM CDT
It is a pretty interesting line or research, but it is lacking in facts.
$103359148
Jun 6, 2014 7:23 PM CDT
Word of advice, never peer inside the brains of mice thinking it's human.
JoeQ
Jun 6, 2014 3:22 PM CDT
Yeah, that's gotta be why when a person gets a bad concussion they can lose their memory of the last 24 hours or so. To oversimplify, the short term memory is electrical, the long term is chemical, and the sleep period is when the back-up takes place.