Sleep

How to Create Long-term Memories Over Night


Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of today’s smart strategy. Sleep is a hot commodity for nursing students. It’s such a hot commodity that students deny themselves the juicy reward of a good night’s slumber for a time when exams and clinicals are no longer looming.

Unfortunately, during the dark days of denial, students undermine their own success in favor of the perceived benefit of “just another hour or two” of studying. “Just another hour or two” quickly turns into a habit of less and less sleep each night.

You might be familiar with this experience. You deny yourself a good night’s rest, thinking that you can cram more in before your big exam the next day. You go to sleep at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with an alarm set for 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. Running on a less than theĀ ideal number of hours for sleep, you rush to school in a haze, still wiping crusties from your eyes.

You sit for your exam, unable to fully pay attention, yearning for your sweet, sweet pillow. The exam starts. Seventy questions. You’ve got this!

You rush through the test, excited to be done. Now you’re speeding home to sleep for 30 or 45 minutes before you start studying again.

This is the story of the average nursing student. Don’t be this student.

Despite the belief that you’ll “get more” out of “just another hour or two,” you’re actually undermining your ability to pay attention, remain alert, concentrate, and think critically. Sleep offers amazing benefits for the quality of our thinking, as well as our mental fortitude and attention to detail.

Now here’s an aspect of sleep I bet you’ve never considered… Sleep can be one of your best smart strategies for studying. How can this be so? Aside from the aforementioned benefits of sleep, sleep offers the opportunity to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. Isn’t that a result you’d like to have!?

A recent study discovered what are called “sharp wave ripples.” The presence or absence of these sharp wave ripples determines one’s ability to transfer information from short-term to long-term memory. How do you get these sharp wave ripples, you might ask!?

Easy – you sleep!

You’re more likely to experience memory consolidation during periods of deep sleep. On average, deep sleep makes up 20% of a person’s sleep cycle and occurs mostly in the first third of sleep.

The more hours you spend sleeping leads to a greater amount of exposure to sharp wave ripples. The study indicates that even a minimal amount of sleep is healthy for memory consolidation. So, naps are effective study strategies, too!

Happy sleeping,

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