Sleep Well for Better Memory Recall

shutterstock_181673741We’ve probably all been in the dreadful situation of not being able to remember the name of a recent acquaintance. It is a dreadful feeling in the short pause where your memory fails, those few seconds feel like they last an eternity. As if that weren’t bad enough you then get to wallow in a state of embarrassment as your reward for a poor memory.

If you have ever wondered why you can recall the names of most people, but not others, a recent study by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston may have found the answer. Not getting a good sleep after meeting someone new might be the reason why their name doesn’t get committed to memory.


How was the study carried out?

The volunteers for the study were each shown a series of photos of people they had not previously met and asked to remember a given name for the face they had just seen. The volunteers were then asked to complete a number of tasks before being asked to recall the names 12 hours later.

The test was then repeated with a different set of photographs and names and the opportunity to have 8 hours of sleep before being asked to recall the names. On this test the average improvement of 12% over their first attempt.

Does this apply only to the recall of names?

In the study there is a clear link between a good sleep and the ability to recall a name. It has been shown in other studies that the ability to recall information improves after a good sleep.

From this we can then see the importance of sleep not only for ourselves but also for other members of the family, especially teenagers who are approaching end of school exams, SAT tests or maybe even driving theory tests.

I sleep 8 hours a night but still err over names and facts – what’s going on?

If you feel that you get enough sleep for you or maybe even the full 8 hours of recommended sleep, but still stumble over facts you might be wondering if there is something else going on. What might be happening here is that your sleep is not good quality sleep.

For sleep to be of a good quality you need to complete a number of sleep cycles – a four phase cycle of sleep that lasts around 90 minutes. When sleep is of poor quality it is usually because you do not get into a deep enough sleep to complete a full sleep cycle.

What can I do to improve my sleep?

Improving your sleep can be a bit of a process of elimination. You will, no doubt be aware that cutting down on caffeine intake is a good thing if you are having problems sleeping. Try doing this from around 4pm in the day to see if this helps.

Other causes of a poor sleep might be felt when you wake up. For example, if you have a sore neck when you wake up, you’re probably in need of a new pillow. Having a worn out pillow might not be enough on its own to keep you awake, but it might be affecting the quality of your sleep.

If you wake up with a sore neck, back, shoulders or even hips, these are all tell tale signs that your pillow or mattress are worn out. Fortunately, the solution to these issues is simple and not necessarily expensive. Check out the pillows and mattress toppers sections of the Sleepy People.

When my sleep improves, will my memory improve straight away?

In the sleep study carried out for name recall, it took just one sleep for the participants to show an improvement in their memory recall. This is great news for those of us who are struggling to recall names and facts or for those who are revising for exams and tests.

Thank you for reading our article. If you know someone who is currently studying and preparing for exams, why not share our article with them on social media and help them achieve a 12% more efficient memory?