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How sleep affects your memory

Can a lack of sleep affect your memory? It’s possible, says Aris Iatridis, M.D., a sleep medicine specialist and pulmonologist at Piedmont.

“One of the functions of sleep is memory consolidation,” says Dr. Iatridis. “When people don't get enough sleep, they tend to have increased cognitive deficits.”

Research has shown that sleep strengthens the neural connections that form memories. When you are sleep-deprived, those neurons are overworked and no longer function properly, affecting the way you process information and your ability to remember or learn.

“You will think a lot better when you’ve had a full night’s rest than when you’ve been sleep-deprived,” Dr. Iatridis says.

Poor sleep can cause you to feel moody, unmotivated and exhausted.  It can also lead to more serious health issues. 

“Sleep deprivation can affect certain hormones in the body that make you more prone to an increased appetite and weight gain,” he explains. “And there is data that shows that people who sleep less tend to die at a higher rate.”

Tips for good sleep

Good sleep is important for your overall health. To get your best night’s rest, consider the following tips:

  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon.

  • Exercise regularly, but finish your workout at least three hours before bed.

  • Finish meals two to three hours before bedtime.

  • Power nap for 20 minutes during the day.

  • Prevent pets from sleeping in your room.

  • Reduce television and computer screen time an hour before bed.

To learn more about treatment for sleep disorders, visit Piedmont Sleep Services.

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