Hello everyone, and welcome to my third round of research on the question, “How does sleep effect our ability to learn and retain knowledge?”.
I would like to start first by thanking Alison, Catherine and Ivy for their comments on my previous round and answer a few questions you guys posed. So, starting with looking into Non-REM and REM sleep, and the stages you can find more information on those in the first round of research. As to the hippocampus, the idea is that within the brain when you sleep, some parts become inactive more closely to when you actually go to sleep, but the hippocampus is usually active for a large quantity of time even while asleep and goes inactive quite near to when you go to sleep and so following that idea it also comes active a little while later then the rest, so even when you wake up, it might take a little while before it actually wakes up and starts functioning properly, hopefully that helps to clarify. I kind of think about it like the later you go to sleep the longer it might take you to wake up in the morning, and the hippocampus stays up quite late in comparison to other parts of the brain. As to the question of why do some people have that 1-2 minute waking period in the middle of the night, well just about everyone does its just that awake would be a loose term for it, it’s more so a moment of time where the brain activity is similar to that of when you are awake, the actual length of those moments, and whether you have it is a genetic thing, so we cant do much to alter that. Yes, the hDEC2 gene is the gene in humans and most other mammals that regulates the amount of sleep that we need, in humans though we’ve narrowed it down to the transcriptional repressor hDEC2-P385R, so if you were to have a mutation in this gene your body can say to you that you only need 4 hours rather then 8 hours, now if only I had it. Again, thank you so much.
For this round we will be looking into the following:
- How are core motor skills effected by sleep? (EX. vision, hearing, ability to process information)
- Would more activity during the day make more sleep necessary?
- The good and bad of having to wake up early.
- Does the time at which we sleep matter? (EX. 9pm to 6am vs. 4pm to 1am)
- Correlation between memory and sleep? Correlations between our attention span and sleep?
Would more activity during the day make more sleep necessary?
In our case, we are going to take activity as being interchangeable with exercise as they would be same in the case of this context, activity being physical activity. So, we can start off by clarifying one point and that’s that whether it makes you sleep longer or not, activity or exercise do make you sleep better. Exercise improves sleep quality (1). Though the answer to whether it increases the amount of sleep we need is quite easily answerable as, its been proven that exercise does increase sleep duration (2). Though by how much? Well, it depends. Depends on the person, each person reacts differently to exercise, even when you should exercise during the day depends on the person (2).
How are core motor skills effected by sleep? (EX. vision, hearing, ability to process information)
Interestingly enough, a lack of sleep can actually hinder your fine motor skills and your ability to focus and learn efficiently (3). Fine motor skills are any skills that require the movement and coordination of multiple body parts. So, one such example could be throwing a ball, which requires you to use your eyes and hand to throw precisely. Though it also affect’s central auditory processing (CAP) or hearing (4). The way that they figured this out was by giving a few hearing to tests to the person while they had had a normal amount of sleep, and then sleep depriving them for 24 hours, and then giving them the tests again (4). That’s not all either, as a lack of sleep can also affect your vision, though you would have to have less then 5 hours a night for this one to come into effect as the eye needs 5 hours of sleep every night to properly replenish themselves (5). Over time, it could lead to blood vessels bursting within the eye due to eye strain or cause dry, which is a condition that happens when your eye doesn’t get enough water/tears and so doesn’t have enough lubrication (5).
Correlation between memory and sleep? Correlations between our attention span and sleep?
The relation between sleep and memory is that, sleep directly influences the retention of memory’s (6). It is thought that long term memories are consolidated and stored during sleep, by the two-stage memory system, where short term memory’s are made and then consolidated by the hippocampus while asleep and then transferred to the cortex for long-term memory storage (6,7), though for more on the hippocampus and how it’s thought that memory’s are stored during sleep, we can take a look back at round two. So, how does it relate to our attention span? If we have a sleep disorder then yes, it most very likely does negatively affect our attention span, as one of the symptoms of a lot of sleep disorders is a lack of focus or attention (8). Which could negatively impact our ability to learn new things or to properly do things that would usually come naturally to us if we had enough sleep. Total Sleep deprivation impairs our ability to pay attention, our memory and our decision-making ability’s, while slight sleep deprivation influences our attention span (9). So, from that we could conclude that yes, sleep does affect our memory and attention span, especially when we are lacking in sleep.
Does the time at which we sleep matter? (EX. 9pm to 6am vs. 4pm to 1am)
The time itself doesn’t seem to really matter in and of itself, but it does matter cause of the things that happen in that time. One key external factor to sleep is light (10). Light affects our internal clock, who screws with our circadian rhythm, which then reduces the chemicals that makes us feel sleepy, and so it becomes more difficult to fall asleep as your body no longer wants to fall asleep, it thinks that it’s time to do stuff. Though time can matter when changing time zones, as your body’s internal clock and circadian rhythm are set to a certain period and time, but the sudden shift in light and environment screws with our internal clock, so in this case time would matter (10).
The good and bad of having to wake up early.
This is the one that surprised me the most while looking things up, as I had figured that waking up early would be good for you, I mean if Floyd Mayweather wakes up at 2 am everyday and so did Kobe Bryant, it’s got to be good for you right? Wrong. Waking up early can actually be bad for you, with it making you less productive (11). Depending on the person it can be good for you or it might be bad for you, as your sleep cycle is affected greatly by genetics, and so the time at which it’s best for you to wake up is different from other people (11). Taking a look back at the survey that happened a while back one of the questions was “Do you feel better waking up later or earlier then your average waking up time?”, if you look at the responses given, they vary from earlier to later, there is no set response as each person responds differently and so it’s best to go off how you yourself feel in the morning and adjust as you feel. Of course, waking up can also be good (see Floyd Mayweather), giving you seemingly more time to be productive, and such but it depends on the person, what it isn’t good is to force yourself to wake up early as the results are resoundingly negative, if your natural waking time isn’t early in the morning.
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In my next post I’ll be coming to a conclusion of my topic and clarifying any remaining questions anyone has, so if you have any questions please leave them below.