Popping pills and or toiling away at Sudoku may help boost memory, but according to a slew of recent studies, good old-fashioned sleep may be best: It strengthens long-term memory, decision-making, and creativity. "It turns out we are not like TiVo," says a sleep researcher, which "is good at recording one station while it shows you another. We can't do that. We can't simultaneously take in information and process it." That's where sleep comes in, Health Day reports.
"The sleeping brain is smart, and it's making sophisticated decisions about which memories are important and should be held onto," says a professor who has studied the effect of sleep on memory. But since people's sleep needs vary, it isn't always clear whether you're getting enough. The researcher's advice: "Watch what happens on the weekend if you don't set an alarm. If you sleep more than you sleep during the week," you need more.