Sleep Is Important for Next Day Memory Formation

Neuroscience_Neurology.jpgIt’s pretty well known that sleep deprivation affects memory formation. Getting a good night of sleep after a long day of learning helps consolidate memory formation of the prior day. What hasn’t been known is whether sleep deprivation affects new memory formation. Some research out of Harvard published this month shows that sleep may be critical not only for solidification of memories from the current day, but also in preparing the brain for next-day memory formation.

Intuitively, we all know that fatigue and sleep deprivation affects our mental and physical performance. That’s why we are always advised to get a good night of rest before a big performance. But typically that advice is given to ensure peak performance. It’s rare to hear that advice given with regard to memory formation for the following day.

The question this research raises is how much does sleep affect new memory formation? If sleep lays the groundwork for potential memory of the next day, how far out does this potential extend?

I’m excited in this research and can’t wait to see what pans out down the road. It will be interesting to see where future research takes us and what questions are answered. Some questions I have:

  • Does losing sleep affect your memory formation a week later?
  • Or is this just a short term effect?
  • Do amounts of sleep deprivation correlate with memory potential?

I’m really interested to hear what other readers have to say.


Yoo SS, Hu PT, Gujar N, Jolesz FA, Walker MP. A deficit in the ability to form new human memories without sleep. Nature Neuroscience. 2007 Mar;10(3):385-92.


Dr. JC is a medical doctor who has a passion for health promotion and education.
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