A good night’s sleep is the key to better memory, new research suggests.
By
Jody Phan

24 Feb 2016 - 4:48 PM  UPDATED 4 May 2016 - 9:34 AM

Pulling an all-nighter ahead of an exam or important meeting may hinder your chances of success. New research from the University of Bristol shows daytime patterns of brain activity are replayed at fast-forward speed during sleep.

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You sleep around 200,000 hours in the first 60 years of your life, so you want to make sure you're doing it well.

The key new finding is that sleep helps strengthen the microscopic connections between nerve cells active in the hippocampus, the brain’s central filing system for memory. These nerve connections are deemed critical for memory consolidation.

With sleep, these cells become better at sorting through all the information gathered during the day and storing the important pieces in our memory.

Daytime patterns of brain activity are replayed at fast-forward speed during sleep.

"These findings are about the fundamental processes that occur in the brain during the consolidation of memory during sleep,” lead researcher Jack Mellor, from University of Bristol said.

"It also seems that the successful replay of brain activity during sleep is dependent on the emotional state of the person when they are learning. This has major implications for how we teach and enable people to learn effectively,” he added.

So before you make that cup of coffee to prepare for a late night of cramming, consider getting some proper shut eye instead.

SBS On Demand: Why do we dream?

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