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SLEEP STUDY: FRAGMENTED SLEEP MAY IMPAIR MEMORY

Having difficulty recalling the name of the person you met at a party last night? While most people chalk this up to age or just being forgetful, it may be the cause of something seemingly unrelated. Small memory blunders may have to do with the quality of sleep you receive each night.

Ever have a hard time remembering what you ate for dinner the night before? Having difficulty recalling the name of the person you met at a party last night? While most people chalk this up to age or just being forgetful, it may be the cause of something seemingly unrelated. Small memory blunders may have to do with the quality of sleep you receive each night.

While you sleep, your mind collects, stores and disregards the information you received during the day. This process helps you build long-term memory day after day. Many times we experience this random sorting of information during the night as dreams. Should your sleep be fragmented during the night or frequently disrupted, a new study found that it can affect your brain's ability create long-term memories.

A recent study by Stanford University on mice found that when their sleep was disrupted it had a major effect on their ability to create memories. The experiment was conducted by sending light pulses into the animals' brains to disrupt their sleep without affecting total sleep time or the quality or composition of sleep. After being awakened, the mice were placed in a box with two objects, one familiar that they had seen the day before and another which was new. The mice with unaffected sleep disregarded the object they were familiar with and inspected the new object. The mice whose sleep was interrupted during the study engaged with both objects equally. This leads researchers to believe that the interrupted sleep affected the mice's ability to recall the already-seen object because their interrupted sleep disrupted their ability to recall the object from the previous day.

This study demonstrates just how important it is for people to not only get enough sleep every night but to get an uninterrupted night's sleep. People who are suffering from sleep apnea in which they suffer hundreds of mini wake-ups are at risk for developing serious memory problems over time. Alcoholics are also affected because alcohol consumption prevents the body from entering the deeper, more replenishing sleep states and can awaken the body during the night as part of the detoxification process.

If you are having memory problems, it may be your sleep. Make sure you're getting adequate sleep every night and not drinking an excessive amount of alcohol or suffering from any symptoms of sleep apnea. There are many great benefits to having improved memory, try improving your sleep habits and see what you remember.