If you want to keep your brain healthy, you need quality rest. As we sleep, our brains are working overtime to solidify memories and remove dangerous neurotoxins.
However, combining stress and sleep loss can lead our memories to fail us when we need it the most. According to a new study from Uppsala University in Sweden, the combination negatively impacts our cognitive functioning.
The Huffington Post tells that data was collected on 15 men as they learned 15 card pairs in an evening learning session. Afterwards, about half of the men were allowed to enjoy 8 hours of sleep, while the other half only slept just 4 hours. The next morning the men were asked to recall the pairs, with both groups managing to be successful. This shows that their learned pairs had been transferred from short-term memory to their long-term memory.
Nonetheless, the second experiment changed the results. The participants were exposed to acute stress in the form of a loud noise for the 30 minutes while recalling newly learned words, before their card pair test. Those who slept 8 hours the night before showed no impairment related to stress, but the men who had been sleep deprived experienced a 10% reduction in being able to recall the information they knew.
“In everyday situations — parenting, exams, doctors on call — stress and short sleep often go hand in hand,” Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes, a neuroscientist at the university and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Even politicians often have overnight meetings and resume talks after just a couple of hours of sleep, under very time-pressed and thereby presumably very stressful conditions — just think of the current situation regarding the negotiations between the EU and Greece.”
Dr. Cedernaes recommends getting more sleep to improve how efficient we are at work. He says that many stressful situations also require us to perform our best at the same time, and quality sleep will give our brains the support it needs to access learned memories. Tuck in 7-9 hours to night tonight to increase your success tomorrow!