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How Does Sleep Affect Memory?

It is common knowledge that memory can begin to decline as people age, but what is less understood is the role that poor sleep plays in age-related memory loss. While scientists have proven that sleep helps cement the memories that you’ve acquired during the day and connect them to older memories, the exact reason why sleep is so important to retaining memories is still not entirely understood. Today, Home Care Assistance, a premier provider of senior home care in Bridgewater, is going to explore the phases of sleep and how lack of sleep can directly affect one’s memory.

When you’re asleep, your brain cycles through different levels of slumber. During light and deep sleep, the brain prepares the mind for learning by processing memories acquired during the day. During the rapid-eye-movement (REM) phase of sleep, the brain tries to link your newly acquired memories with those already accumulated, sometimes resulting in strange and vivid dreams.

Studies show that those who enjoy plenty of sleep can increase their ability to learn new things by up to 40 percent. Motor skills, reflexes and judgment are positive affected by plenty of sleep as well. Seniors who get enough REM sleep are also said to enjoy enhanced problem solving skills, and are better able to process emotions.

Unfortunately, the memory-building phases of sleep begin to alter quite early in life with sleep patterns in young adults proving quite different in those who are over 40 years old. In fact, one study found that people over the age 60 experience a 70 percent loss of deep sleep compared with adults under the age of 25. The cause for the inability to sleep can be attributed to a variety of things from a change in eating or exercise habits or the diagnosis of an advanced condition.

If you or an aging loved one experience problems sleeping, it is important to talk with your doctor or primary care physician. While many people think the inability to sleep is a normal part of aging, underlying causes such as depression can lead to decreased sleep for a senior and when treated, may help restore sleep, thus promoting increased memory.

If your aging parent or loved one is suffering from some sort of memory loss, contact Home Care Assistance. While we offer part time and live-in care, we also specialize in dementia care in Bridgewater. Our highly trained and compassionate caregivers can assist with daily tasks, personal care and transportation, and can also help ensure nighttime routines are followed for restful sleep. To learn more about our care services, contact a Care Manager today at 908-450-9400.