Johns Hopkins University researchers have discovered a link between lost sleep and lost memories.
In a new study, they found that a key purpose of sleep is to recalibrate the brain cells that are responsible for learning and memory.
They also say that sleep solidifies the lessons we learn, and that it allows the brain to use them when awakened.
Graham Diering, Ph.D., the postdoctoral fellow who led this Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study, says:
“Our findings solidly advance the idea that the mouse, and presumably the human brain, can only store so much information before it needs to recalibrate.”
Diering also notes that:
“Without sleep and the recalibration that goes on during sleep, memories are in danger of being lost.”
This study adds to an ever-growing evidence base about the importance of quality sleep.
The Best Way to Improve Your Craft
Isn’t Necessarily to Work More Hours
For professionals who strive to maximize their productivity and output each day, sleep often takes a backseat to late-night workloads.
Now, there are certainly situations like big project deadlines that require working into the early-morning hours. For many of us with families — late nights may be our only quiet time to catch up on emails or the day’s headlines.
Making sleep a low priority can be detrimental to your health, for starters. Now, we also know that it hurts your ability to improve your craft.
Current research suggests that information is “contained” in parts of your brain’s neurons. (Neurons are cells within the nervous system that transmit information to other nerves, muscles or glands.)
Specifically, the information you learn causes changes in neurons’ synapses. (Synapses are connections that are responsible for communication between other neurons.)
The researchers believe memories are encoded through these synaptic changes when we learn new information.
But when neurons are “maxed out” and constantly firing, they lose their capacity to convey information. This hinders learning and memory.
Sleep on This …
The researchers found that sleep deprivation puts you at risk of maxing out your neurons. That’s because it interrupts the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for creating these changes in your synapses.
The Johns Hopkins research suggests that synapses are restructured throughout the brain every 12 hours or so. This happens whether you are awake or asleep.
But you may find that you retain more, and perhaps even make better decisions, if more of these cycles happen while you slumber.
In other words, as Diering says,
“This demonstrates why ‘sleeping on it’ can actually clarify your ideas.
“The bottom line is that sleep is not really downtime for the brain. It has important work to do then, and we in the developed world are shortchanging ourselves by skimping on it.”
If you want to improve your performance in the workplace, then it’s time you start improving your sleep habits.
Related story: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep
I would love to know if you’re currently getting enough sleep, or if you plan to start optimizing your sleep after reading this article. For our other readers, we would also appreciate telling us your personal story how improving your sleep has affected your life. All you need to do is leave a comment in the section below.
Happy and Healthy Investing,
Homer1a drives homeostatic scaling-down of excitatory synapses during sleep
Graham H. Diering1, Raja S. Nirujogi2,*, Richard H. Roth1,*, Paul F. Worley1, Akhilesh Pandey2, Richard L. Huganir1,†
Science 03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 511-515