Forget What You Heard, Sleep Is For Memory Loss…

“Sue, where’s my car?”  It was a bright autumn day, and I came strolling into the kitchen after a lazy sunday snooze.  My alarm had buzzed at 10:30 a.m., and I needed to be on the road by 11 to get to my soccer game in New Hampshire.  To my disbelief and horror, my sister had taken it.  She had come into my room at 8 a.m., asked me very nicely if she could borrow my car to go to yoga and then to brunch with her friends.  In my desire to continue sleeping undisturbed, I had agreed to each of her requests.  And not merely in grunts… I told her where my keys were.  Processing happened.

This type of “sleepy amnesia” was not a isolated incident.  I can think of many instances in which people have tried to wake me up for something, but during the discussion I apparently construct a compelling argument for why I should still be sleeping.  I later have no recollection of the interaction, and usually get mad at them for not waking me.

These anecdotes came to mind as we discussed memory this week in class, especially in relation to specific individuals that suffer severe forms of memory loss.  It made me think of all the situations in which my memory is not what I might hope.  Everyone’s brain has some sort of filtering mechanism by which information our memory system deems as not important is disregarded in favor of pertinent or attended to information.  But when my sister asked for my car, my importance mechanism failed me.  What is grogginess?  And what happens during sleep that makes me so… stupid?

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4 thoughts on “Forget What You Heard, Sleep Is For Memory Loss…

  1. I like the last note. Sleep should be one of our next workshops! I always found it interesting how my old roommate could unconsciously shut off multiple alarms and in turn miss some of her classes even though she is an excellent and motivated student.

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  2. Sounds to me like your brain was acting optimally for itself instead of your social endeavors. Apparently it thought attending to sleeping was more important than making sure you had a car for your soccer game.

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  3. This happens to me often. Sometimes my boyfriend wakes me up to remind me of something before he leaves for work, and he says it seems like I’m awake and fully aware of the conversation. Once he leaves, I go back to sleep for awhile. Later that day he would ask me if I had done what he asked, but I have no idea what he’s talking about. Now he just leaves a note with his request by my keys to avoid this dilemma. It seems like the brain is unable to store memories of events that occur shortly before falling asleep. Sleep disrupts the conversion of short term memory to long term memory. If a memory isn’t attended to, it will be lost. That’s why resuming sleep causes us to forget events that occur after being briefly woken up.

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