Scientists discovered that a well known state of sleep called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is key to improving memory.
The benefits of sleep are well-documented, but researcher Sara C. Mednick, PhD, and her colleagues are finding that certain stages of sleep actually have distinct roles in people’s memory capacity. The REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage — where people’s dreams are most vivid — is also important for people’s memory systems, Mednick found.
This is why we sleep. During sleep a lot of the information we gather during the wakeful period is catalogued and stored away for later retrieval.
Lack sleep means information may be lost forever. As we get older, the ability to sleep is reduced, especially REM sleep is harder to achieve. Those who can get into deep sleep on regular basis, have an edge in remembering more and longer.
People’s memories may also help them imagine their future, according to researcher Daniel L. Schacter, PhD, a psychology professor at Harvard University. Schacter and his colleagues have been conducting brain imaging research that suggests that the ability to remember past events may be crucially involved in people’s ability to imagine events that have not happened yet and even simulate these “future” occurrences.