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Poor Sleep Prevents Brain From Storing Memories (techzwn.com)
80 points by jjp9999 on Jan 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

I think there's an evolutionary advantage to this. If you don't commit new memories when sleep-deprived, then you don't remember how rough the first few months of parenting a newborn can be (you get very little sleep during that time) and you're more likely to have more children.

And yet sleep is always the first thing to be sacrificed when we "need to get stuff done".

If you use an SRS flashcard program, you'll see strong correlations between days you didn't get enough sleep and lowered retention rates.

Similarly, staying up all night to study for an exam is silly.

It's not silly if you never paid attention in any of the classes and you're learning the stuff for the first time. I know that's happened to me before, especially for a lot of the easier courses. Some knowledge that has a high probability of not being retained is better than no knowledge. :)

This is of course a stupid solution to a completely different problem, but those courses didn't inspire me to try my best... if I had another chance, I don't know if I would try harder. I know that sounds bad.

No, it sounds like a cost benefit analysis - the only concern is how to judge if a course is worth learning before conducting the analysis.

"I don't need no Calculus" is a fail in the analysis, "I dont need no Media Studies and the effect of the Female Eunach on Porn Pay per TV channels" is not.

That assumes that gaining knowledge is the only point of taking a course. Easy credits are also a viable reason. So are required credits.

I can vouch for this. Best thing to do before a test is sleep! If you're too nervous, go to bed early at least so you can try to get some hours in before the morning.

I've never remembered anything after a cram. And really, if you're only studying for the exam (and we know how much of school knowledge we use in the real world) then school is pointless if not for a piece of paper you get at the end.

Just because you have one or two courses where you study only for the exam, it doesn't mean the entire degree was like that.

A good night's sleep has always done me a lot more good than spending the night trying to cram in the curriculum.

taking a nap and resuming the work has postive effects.

Can I remind everyone "Correlation does not imply causation"?

And in this case there is an obvious omitted factor (which is important to consider when levying this allegation) age. Perhaps being old makes you sleep worse and have trouble retaining memories, but sleep has nothing to do with memories at all (although we have lots of reasons to suspect that it does). They would also have found arthritis, type II diabetes, prostate cancer, and a host of other things reduced memory if their design was as described by the article. Given that they have fMRI data it would be fairly simple to run a correlation between quality of sleep and retention within an age cohort and see what you get. Given that they got funding to do the MRIs I'm suspicious that in the actual study they did, I'm not sure you need scans to know the elders often don't sleep well.

But if that works, perhaps it was weight causing poor sleep and memory retention. Or alcohol abuse. I'm not saying this research can't be done but it's a lot more trustworthy if you either 1. randomize subjects and do a treatment or 2. have a much larger dataset and statistically control for these suspicious factors.

Yes, but after the 8th time I left my TV remote in the fridge after many sleepless nights when before, I could remember how many inches away the keyboard is from the monitor... There may be something to this.

I don't understand why you are being downvoted- this is an essential question to answer. For instance, Alzheimer's patients show sleep disorder- specifically, they tend to not sleep as much as non-Alzheimer's patients. There may be some evidence that this starts before the symptoms of dementia are diagnosed. If it turns out that memory issues cause poor sleep, that could potentially be a big break in early diagnosis.

An interesting family that suffers from a specific sleep deprivation disorder where they simply stop sleeping in middle age and die a few months later.


Great link. I discovered I am highly allergic to linden trees this summer, my first allergy, and was only sleeping 3-4 hours a night, maximum. I was so confused and forgetful of peoples names.

Granted, I also partied non-stop the whole summer.

Been there, done that. Inadequate deep sleep also causes your body to skip the muscle/tissue repair process that happens overnight. I wound up with tendonitis this way and eventually burnt out.

I think dreaming and the process of storing memories is a key piece of solving Artificial intelligence. IE we must teach the artificial brain to sleep in order for it to store and sort memories. For me it seems similar to a garbage collect function of the brain.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Your view is very anthropocentric.

"The hippocampus stores short-term memories, while the prefrontal cortex is our long-term memory bank." This statement runs contrary to all the current concepts of information storage in the brain. The hippocampus is where long term memories are stored, the prefrontal cortex is involved in working memory, planning and evaluating action outcomes and a bunch of other things we have barely figured out.

Your brain is a neural network of neural networks, during sleep, a cost function is applied across the entire grid. Important aspects of your day are done, and redone at high velocity, simultaneously (leading to dreams).

Cost benefit analysis are done against what you might have done, and the results of that, and actions that would have caused more desirable outcomes are projected, as best as it can see, and the habits, and motor neurons are reconfigured accordingly, this explains why when you get good sleep, and you wake up, you find yourself much better able to do tasks than had you not slept. If you don't sleep, you die.

Source of these points:



Title is misleading, this function also has to do with encoding short term memories to long term memories. Since the mind only has limited space (limited number of neurons to configure), that only the most useful memories are stored into permanent disk. Disruption of the 7 to 9 hour sleep cycle garbage collects the memories that were about to be stored. The mind queues them up to be dealt with the following day, but sometimes are displaced or missed by more passionate things in the present.

Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your mind and keep it in top running condition for as long as possible, not too little, not too much, sleep in intervals of 90 minutes. If you consume garbage knowledge on a daily basis, your mind will encode that garbage to permanent disk, and you will become that garbage.

Conspiracy theorists suffer from a mental misconfiguration where the cost function applied to the neural network of neural networks suffers from "over fitting". Finding patterns in randomness leading to conclusions are not valid. A lambda function can be applied against the cost function which will alleviate this. I can do it in software, and when I discover the operating principles of the neo cortex, I will be able to fix all the conspiracy nuts in the local nut house. Take care to not take for granted the fresh slate of your mind while you are young, because when you are old, it'll be mostly full and encoding new skills to disk much more difficult, the cost function is more reluctant to modify the grids since doing so would damage your ability to consume resources, find mates and create more of you. Fill you mind with timeless wisdom and get good sleep before your hard disks become full.

"If you don't sleep, you die."

No human has ever died from simply not sleeping (excluding accidents, etc caused by lack of sleep)



I can't say if you are entirely accurate, but you couldn't have explained that in better terms!

Conspiracy theorists suffer from a mental misconfiguration where the cost function applied to the neural network of neural networks suffers from "over fitting". Finding patterns in randomness leading to conclusions are not valid. A lambda function can be applied against the cost function which will alleviate this. I can do it in software, and when I discover the operating principles of the neo cortex, I will be able to fix all the conspiracy nuts in the local nut house.

Wouldn't this work the other way, too? Not finding patterns in what turns out to not be randomness sometimes ends up getting you killed. It's a fine line between paranoia and attention to detail. Anyone with aspirations to "fix" this should probably take that into consideration.

correct, the opposite of overfitting is underfitting, knowing that whenever you talk to joe you get punched, and you have 10 training examples, but this time is different, he's wearing his brown shirt, so it's probably safe now.

not finding the signal from the noise, because joe hitting me 10 times in a row is not conclusive, because most humans never hit me. and joe is wearing new clothing, so it's safe because joe is a human.

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