Understand the Relation between Sleep and the Learning Process

What is the relation between sleep and the learning process?

sleep and learning process

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According to https://edition.cnn.com, adults require almost 8 hours of sleep. Sleeping, learning, and memory, are undoubtedly the complex phenomena, which cannot be understood easily. However, several studies on both animals as well as humans have revealed that both the quantity and the quality of sleep have immense influence over learning and memory as well. A number of studies have suggested that sleep is responsible for helping in learning along with developing memory in two important ways. The first way is that sleep-deprived people cannot focus on anything and therefore fail to learn efficiently. Secondly, sleep is responsible for consolidating memory, which is important for grasping any new information.


There is no denying the fact that no one has an idea about the exact mechanism but the process of learning, in relation to memory, is described through three important functions.

Acquisition– This is referred to as the introduction of any new information into your brain. 

Consolidation– This is responsible for representing all the processes, with the help of which, memory can become stable. 

Recall– This is the process of accessing information consciously or unconsciously after a person learns something. 

All these steps are extremely important for the proper functioning of memory. The mechanism of acquisition and recall are responsible for occurring when a person is awake but according to studies, memory consolidation takes place when the person is sleeping. This is done by strengthening neural connections, which helps memories to form. Indeed, there is hardly any consensus regarding how sleep is making this process easier. However, most of the researchers have the thought that certain characteristics associated with brain waves during sleep stages are responsible for the formation of different kinds of memories. 

Role of sleep in both learning as well as memory formation

According to sleep researchers, sleep helps in learning and the formation of memories in unique ways. The first approach prefers looking at different stages associated with sleep along with the changes in the duration while learning new tasks. The second approach seeks to examine how sleep deprivation is going to affect the process of learning. Sleep deprivation can be complete, partial, or selective. 

Sleep stages and memory

It is important to understand How Sleep Helps Us Learn. Different kinds of memories form during different learning situations. Scientists are constantly trying to explore whether there is a relationship between the consolidation of different kinds of memories and the different sleep stages. 

The first is declarative memory. During the REM sleep, the declarative memory is responsible for processing information. Apart from that, slow-wave sleep also has a great impact on declarative memory by helping the brain to process as well as consolidate information that has been newly acquired. 

The second is procedural memory. Again, REM sleep is responsible for having a huge impact on the consolidation of procedural memory. 

Sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on both learning and performance because the brain is not getting enough rest; therefore will not allow it to acquire and process new information. 


Learning and sleep are highly related to one another. If you are sleeping properly, it will be easy for your brain to retain all the information that you have received throughout the day. However, if you are not getting enough sleep, you will not be able to learn and remember anything. 

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