The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke noted that most adults usually need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Some adults may only need five hours, while others may need 10 hours.
While it may be tempting to stay up for an extra hour or two, getting a good night’s sleep has several benefits.
Memory and Learning
Students may think that staying up all night studying will help them do better on an exam, but getting to sleep might be the best way to ace that test!
Harvard Medical School explained that sleep affects memory in two ways: “first, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.”
To learn new information, you first go through the acquisition stage, in which the novel information is introduced to the brain. Next, in the consolidation stage, the memory becomes stable, allowing it to be recalled later, such as on an exam.
While you can acquire and recall information while you are awake, Harvard Medical School noted that research suggests that consolidation occurs while you are asleep.
So what happens if you stay up too late studying? Attention becomes affected, making it more difficult for you to process information. Sleep deprivation can also affect your judgment and how you recall information you learned previously.
And it is not just humans who perform worse on memory tasks after sleep deprivation. The Franklin Institute noted that animals that are sleep-deprived also perform worse on memory tests.
Emotional and Social Functioning
Getting a good night’s sleep can also help with how you interact with people. During deep sleep, activity in certain areas of the brain, such as those involved in how you interact socially and control your emotions, is reduced.
This decreased activity suggests that “this type of sleep may help [you] maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while [you] are awake,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.