For many people not having enough sleep is part of life. Some of us have sleepless nights because of worries like outstanding bills or relationship problems. We get up tired and have a tough time keeping up with our daily duties, completing projects and feel stressed out. The next night, we have an even harder time to rest properly. This vicious circle not only drains our energy and spoils our happiness but also, to make things worse, causes tension headaches, loss of focus and forgetfulness.
The importance of sleeping to improve your memory
Recent studies show that people who claimed they felt rested after only a couple of hours of sleep were tested less fit compared to candidates who had eight hours of sleep.
If you are a person involved in mental work, it is best to sleep at least seven hours and more. Studies have found that people who have not slept at all and stayed awake for 24 hours may behave as if they have had too much to drink. Sleep deprivation slows down the brain and affects thinking and speaking performance.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
According to the “How To Improve Memory” eBook the amount of sleep needed relates to age as follows:
A new-born aged 29 days – 12 months needs 16 hours of sleep every night
Infants and children aged 1 – 6 years needs 11 hours of sleep
Children aged 6 – 12 years need 10 hours of sleep
Teenagers aged 12 – 19 years need 9 hours sleep
Adults aged 19 years and older need at least 8 – 9 hours sleep
If you are sleeping less than the required amount of hours every night, it´s time to start changing your sleeping patterns because this is not only a problem regarding memory, but may also affect your mortality.
People in their golden years do not have to sleep less even if it is a fact that the older you become the more of a light sleeper you become. 8 hours of good rest are recommended for elderly people as well to maintain good memory.
Why does your brain need to rest?
A person needs a full night’s rest as their brain needs to consolidate new information. Long-term memory storage of information only occurs during sleeping time. This is how sleep and memory work:
The new information is encoded through stimuli when received
This new information is temporarily stored in the hippocampus
During sleeping time the new information is shifted to another part of the brain – the neocortex – for long term storage
Are daytime naps a substitute for not sleeping properly at night?
Unfortunately, daytime naps are not enough to build long term memory. We do need a full night´s sleep for memory to be installed in the neocortex so it will be accessible long term. That´s why optimizing our sleeping patterns is important.
Improve Sleep and Memory With the 4-7-8 Technique
Here is a very effective technique that can help you to fall asleep quickly and get the rest needed for your brain to become active storing important information. Founded by Dr. Andrew Weil – a Harvard trained holistic health doctor, – the 4-7-8 technique is a breathing pattern that stems from ancient yoga teachings. This is how it goes:
Touch the roof of your mouth behind your top front teeth with the tip of your tongue lightly and keep the tongue in that position throughout the exercise. Exhale completely, and then take on the following breathing pattern (one count is roughly one second):
Breathe in through your nose quietly for 4 counts
Now hold your breath for 7 counts
Blow out the air through your mouth for 8 counts, while making a “whoosh” sound
Now repeat this process.
This video shows exactly how it´s done:
Continuous counting has two functions here: it´s needed to keep up your timing and also helps to empty your mind and interrupt disturbing thought patterns. Keep repeating the exercise until you doze off. If you catch yourself awake, having stopped the breathing routine and falling back into old thinking habits – just start counting and breathing immediately.
According to Dr. Weil this is a powerful technique for falling asleep. It provides more oxygen to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is often over-stimulated during times of stress. It and has a soothing effect and helps to distract the mind from troublesome issues.
Sleep and memory are very closely related. If you find yourself having trouble with long term memory, the reason might be a poor sleeping routine. But now you have a effective technique at hand to help you falling asleep and improve long term memory at the same time.
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