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How Sleep Influences Learning, Memory and General Health

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • Sleep impacts your ability to learn and your creative capacity. Deep sleep is also crucial for brain detoxification, and can have a significant impact on your risk for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Around 12 months of age, when the infant is starting to learn to crawl, stand and walk, there’s a tremendous increase in stage 2 sleep, during which the brain is actively editing and making decisions about what information to retain and which to discard
  • Sleep allows your brain to consolidate abstract pieces of information, collating them into cohesive patterns that allow you to make sense of the world around you, and your experiences of it
  • Sleep is important before learning, as it helps prepare your brain to soak up new information. It’s also crucial after learning, at which point the data are saved and integrated with what you already know
  • Sleep increases your ability to gain insights that would otherwise remain elusive by about 250 percent. Simply dreaming about performing an activity increases your actual physical performance 10fold

In the video above, Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist, interviews professor Matthew Walker, Ph.D., founder and director of the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science and author of "Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams."

In this episode, Walker discusses how sleep impacts your ability to learn and your creative capacity, and the importance of deep sleep for brain detoxification, which can influence your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The interview starts out with a discussion about how sleep patterns change during infancy, and the implications thereof.

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