Sleep helps memories form!
Scientists have just discovered how sleep helps memories form, it has long been known that sleep helps memories to move from short term to long term and that it helps new nerves grow, but now scientists have managed to prove exactly how this process works!
We as sleep consultants often observe huge developmental leaps once we help a family achieve better sleep, and Doctors have been aware that lack of sleep can slow the development of new skills such as crawling, rolling, walking and talking, here is the explanation of why.
Previous studies have shown that teaching mice a new motor skill (like balancing on a rod) causes new dendritic spines to form in their brains. These tiny protrusions connect brain cells to each other and help with the passage of information across synapses, where brain cells meet. Since the number of spines correlates to the number of nerve synapses, it appears that synaptic change in the brains of mammals underlies learning.
Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine have found that sleep causes the number of new spines to increase, and these were protected from being eliminated even when multiple tasks were learnt.
In contrast sleep deprivation did the opposite, fewer spines formed, spines eliminated when a new task was learnt. So their was no solidification of new skills, or memories moved from short term to long term.
This is because the brain goes over and over a newly learned skill, and the same neurons are activated while in non REM sleep following the learning of that new skill. As the brain goes over these new skills and neurons are reactivated new spines grow, the synapses are strengthened.
How does this affect me and my child?
Value your sleep, this is just another example of the wonder’s of sleep!
If you struggle to achieve consolidated naps (more than 45 minutes) and you experience frequent night waking’s past 4 months then chances are your child is not getting as much NON REM sleep (deep sleep) as they optimally could be and this is when all this wonderful memory and synapse forming is happening.
If you feel you are both not getting the consolidated sleep you need, then please let us help.
We offer consults nation wide and really value the biological benefits of sleep.
It continues to amaze me as science continues to figure out the unknown, I still remember a particular lecture at University where my Professor said Sleep in mammals is one of the biggest unknown’s, we know like food and water we need it, but we are still uncertain as to the complete picture regarding the why or the how.
Baby Sleep Consultant infant and child sleep consultants understand the not only the physiology behind sleep but the emotional need for a family to be well rested to be a happy family, we love helping mother’s and babies achieve the best sleep they can, and we love keeping up to date with new scientific discoveries around sleep.
If you need some help – check out our sleep packages.
Read the full scientific journal this blog.