Western research connecting sleep to memory
Published Thursday, October 31, 2013 3:29PM EDT
Scientists at Western University are providing some eye-opening research on sleep, pointing to the idea that the primary role of sleep is to help our memory.
From the recently-opened sleep lab at Western's Brain and Mind Institute, Dr. Stuart Fogel is looking at the critical role that sleep plays in memory retention.
"When we learn something new during the day that memory trace is in a fragile state. And to integrate that memory into long term storage, there has to be consolidation. And it seems sleep is important for that process."
The sleep lab is equipped with three bedrooms. While test subjects sleep, researchers monitor things like brain waves from a separate room.
Fogel explains "On this display we have a typical example of an overnight sleep recording."
The rooms are designed to look and feel as ‘homey’ as possible, like a dorm room for instance, where you'd have your bed and your desk and computer in particular locations.
And while the importance of getting a good night's sleep for overall well-being is understood, research is showing even more about what sleep means, such as how sleep patterns may offer clues about our skills and talents.
"Certain markers of IQ are related to the features of sleep. These IQ measures are predictive of things like whether you'd be a good hockey player or perhaps a computer programmer or be really good at puzzles and logic," Fogel says.
And with the clocks turning back this weekend, Fogel advises "Your brain craves regularity. The best thing is to go to sleep and wake up at the same time."