Posts Tagged ‘Sleep’

Remember that wild dream you had? Here’s why.

April 27th, 2022 No comments

Do you ever wake up and think, “oh my gosh, I just had the most bizarre dream”? Do you ever try to remember your dream and it just will not come to you? Or, do you think about the dream and start to tell someone what happened and suddenly it makes no sense? Me too. Our dreams piece together so many parts of our memory that we cannot even recognize how unusual they are until we say them out loud. Sometimes we know we had an eventful dream, but we just can’t remember it no matter how hard we try. Do not worry though, you are not alone. Everyone goes through these experiences with dreams and it is normal when you consider all the facts about how dreams relate to our memory.

Our memories drive the creation of dreams as we actively retrieve stored information throughout the night while we sleep. What we remember from our dreams tells us a lot about what we pay attention to and what we care about. Information from the environment is what we call distal stimulus or sensory input, which is anything that activates our senses and helps us recognize what that thing is. For example, the computer you are reading this on may be a distal stimulus, because you can feel the keys and hear the sounds it makes. This type of input helps us create images in our heads that we dream about later on. So many aspects of memory like these play into our dreams. We learn things, store the information, retrieve it in our sleep, and then sometimes we retrieve it all again once we wake up, which refers to those times when we do remember our dreams. Even though our dreams may seem like a different dimension of ideas completely separate from the waking mind, it really is all based on the same ideas. If you are as baffled by these phenomena as me, then you should read along to find out why. 

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Confusing or Making up Details to a Story? Blame it on Those All-Nighters.

November 24th, 2015 No comments

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Sure, we all know sleep is important for our health, but life always seems to intervene and these ideal seven to nine hours turn into four to five hours. Lacking sleep like this may make many of us feel tired and irritable, but we often fail to recognize how it may impact our memory for a day’s events. Sleep deprivation makes it tougher to remember things, such as witnessing a car accident or remembering a friend’s story. It is even possible for it to cause us to make up memories for events that never happened!

M_Id_401088_Kids_SleepResearchers Frenda, Patihis, Loftus, Lewis, and Fenn (2014) strived to investigate this and conducted a combination of experiments about sleep deprivation’s effect on false memories. False memories are memories of an event that either occurred differently from how you remember it or never occurred at all. These can be as extreme as believing you have a memory for visiting a city you never did or as mundane as construing a memory for a video you have never seen before. Making up memories like this can yield dire consequences, especially with eyewitness testimonies where an individual may be wrongfully charged because of a witness’ false memory. However, can a lack of sleep make this more likely to happen? Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Can Sleepiness Affect Your Eyewitness Memory?

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

It’s a given that as college students, we all feel tired from time to time. Well, maybe more than from time to time. Walking across campus, have you ever heard people saying things like “I got two hours of sleep last night,” “I slept terribly last night,” “I’m going to pass out right now,” or something along those lines? I’m sure you have at some point. sleepiness 1

We have all heard that it’s important to get our sleep. This is partly because there has been a lot of research showing that our episodic memory, or memory for specific details and events, is better after a period of sleep. For example, if you were to go out on the town and attend a show, your memory for the details and events of that show would be better the next day if you got eight hours of sleep, as opposed to staying out in the city all night. One reason for this phenomenon is that a function of sleep is consolidation (Diekelmann & Born, 2010), or the neural process by which memories are strengthened and more permanently stored. The more sleep you get, the more consolidation occurs, and the better your memories become.

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Can a Habit of Sleep Deprivation Have Permanent Consequences?

November 23rd, 2014 10 comments

Many people sacrifice sleep in order to finish that last little bit of work, but it turns out that you may be better off just going to sleep.  Few people realize the harmful effects of developing a habit of forgoing sleep.  A recent study conducted by Bawden, Oliveira, and Caramelli (2011) reveals that continued sleep deprivation can have an adverse effect on an individual’s executive functioning, attention, and memory.  Executive functioning is essentially an individual’s management system.  It is responsible for directing attention, planning, and regulating mental representations (an individual’s mental image of reality).  These functions are among the most important in carrying out daily life, and people that deprive their bodies of sufficient sleep may be cultivating a ticking time-bomb.



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Categories: Attention, Development, Memory Tags:

Can you Sleep Your Way to Becoming Mozart?

May 4th, 2014 6 comments


Musicians are credited with an acute ability to memorize lengthy pieces of music and then reproduce them with grace and beauty.  But how do they do it? How do they remember every single note and every single rest so perfectly?  Many studies in the past have investigated the role of memory in learning.  They have shown that, even after practice and rehearsal, memory does not stop consolidating, even if we are not consciously aware of this happening.  Consolidation is the process in which the brain gathers all the information you are practicing or rehearsing, packs it together, and sends it to the long-term memory.  This means that even after we stop actively trying to practice something, our brains keep on working to rehearse the information and store it in our memory for the long haul. Research has found that memory consolidation usually happens on larger scales during sleep.  However, many studies have also found that a factor that interferes with memory consolidation is learning multiple novel tasks.  Interference is where one process you engage in disrupts the consolidation of another process.  For example, you may learn how to drive a boat, but then have to learn how to drive a car, but the instructions you received when learning to drive a boat may get in the way of you learning new rules for driving a car.  Interference is a big problem for consolidation because it confuses your brain so that it doesn’t know which information to retain in its memory vault. Researchers found that learning a second novel task after a previous one would interfere with the consolidation of the original task, even after sleep. Allen’s study investigated to what extent sleep had an effect on the consolidation of memory for a target, musical task, if two other tasks were also learned in the same training session.

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

The Importance of Sleep In the Context of Attention–Why you should sleep before your exams

May 3rd, 2014 12 comments

Sleep is a mysterious thing. Still, it’s commonly known that sleep is an extremely important process in many different ways. Among these important functions, it’s a well-known finding among cognitive psychologists that sleep is heavily involved with cognitive performance. Consequently, sleep deprivation, or lack of sleep, can be responsible for markedly declined cognitive performance on a wide array of tasks. Tasks such as memory tests and attention measures show forgetting and inability to focus, among other reductions in cognitive function.


Don’t fall asleep on bread.

The negative effects on cognition that sleep deprivation causes have frequently been thought to be a general decrease in function, as opposed to a specific effect with particular characteristics. In this way, the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive processes are not fully understood. However, a recent study by researchers at the University of Trieste in Italy attempted to explore some more specifics about how sleep deprivation affects the brain and cognitive function.

One of the most important parts of cognition that suffers when we don’t sleep is attention. Attentional processes are involved in focusing on the task at hand. We are all familiar with gaps in attention. From being unable to focus the morning after a long night of partying, to being unable to sit still in anticipation of an exciting event, or being extremely tired after staying up all night with a newborn baby, we are all familiar with having difficulty focusing on specific parts of our lives. Thus, attention is a very important process, because it controls our ability to do anything. As David Strayer put it, attention is the Holy Grail. It controls how cognitive processes work, and what they work on. Read more…

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Can’t remember where you left your keys? Try getting more sleep

May 2nd, 2014 2 comments

Have you ever walked into a room and subsequently forgotten why you entered the room in the first place? Or have you ever misplaced a valuable item, say your iPhone or favorite sweatshirt, and tried to retrace your steps by visiting all of the places you think you last had it, only to come up empty-handed? If these sound like common occurrences, there is something easy you can do to help reduce the number of these painful experiences!

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Sleep and Memory: The importance of peripheral details

May 2nd, 2014 3 comments

Sleep has been to known to be a critical element for the functioning of humans. Today, in fact, I awoke early to go to the gym after getting a less than satisfying night’s sleep when I was met with the classic dilemma: get out of bed and be a productive person or let the comforts of my bed envelop me and fall back asleep? I chose the former, reluctantly. On days following a poor night of sleep I will pass by nearly everyone (friends, strangers, familiar faces) without really noticing their presence––the only thoughts to which my mind attaches are the idea of taking a nap or waiting for nightfall to come. Generally speaking, sleep patterns can have a profound effect on our physical, emotional, and cognitive capacities. But can sleep actually affect performance when we truly need to focus, such as at a crime scene? The authors of the following study sought to investigate how sleep can affect memory recall. But before I delve into the study, it is important to mention past research on the glaring imperfections of memory recall, as well as the relationship between sleep and memory.



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ATTENTION: Tips for Finals Week!

November 23rd, 2013 6 comments

Finals week…both a blessing and a curse. First, you think: “YES! This semester is almost over!” But, then you realize final exams, papers, and projects are still ahead. Awesome. Right after loudness is usually when sleep starts to lose importance and studying takes over. Breaks include Dunkin, Cap’n Crunch at Dana, and funny cat videos. Your bed sees less and less of you as all-nighters and power naps become your routine. This may be a bit exaggerated, but we all know the truth: finals are crazy and exhausting. Climbing into bed is not just the solution for these problems—sleep will also help you remember what you studied! Unbelievable right? The Zzzquil commercials are not lying when they say “Sleep is a beautiful thing.” To prove it to you, I will explain an experiment by Payne et al. (2012) in which sleep benefits were found.

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