Your Brain Builds Memories As You Sleep

Which means you should actually go to bed

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 6, 2014 1:20 PM CDT

(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.

  (Shutterstock)
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