- Marlborough Matter(s)
Scientifically Proven: Sleep is the Best Study Method
by Sora L. '18
Marlborough Matter(s) is a science newsletter distributed to the Marlborough community detailing the most important science news happening in our world and highlighting the on-campus STEM happenings.
A new study, using mice, from Johns Hopkins Medicine shows the importance of sleep for memory function in the brain. The study suggests that for mice, sleep is essential for recalibrating the brain neurons that help form memories and facilitate long-term learning during the day. According to the journal Science, Graham Diering, a JHU main researcher, stated, "Without sleep and the recalibration that goes on during sleep, memories are in danger of being lost."
In order to understand how memories are processed during sleep, the researchers focused on understanding how animals complete “homeostatic scaling down,” a process that limits constant firing, so a neuron doesn’t “max out” and prevent learning/memory formation. This marked the first time researchers studied this process using live animals.
Scientists were able to witness never-seen-before data for scaling down in live, sleeping animals through noting the protein changes in the hippocampus and cortex of the brain. The findings showed a 20% drop in protein levels in the brains of sleeping mice, providing evidence that animals work to facilitate learning and form memories in their sleep by regulating the neurons in their brain during this time.
The significance? This study provides new evidence that sleep is essential for the scaling down process—and therefore for learning and memory.
Lead researcher Diering said, “The bottom line is that sleep is not really downtime for the brain. It has important work to do then, and we are shortchanging ourselves by skipping it."
Next test, skip the late-night cram session and get more sleep instead.