cognitive consequences of sleep and sleep loss

The influence of sleep on cognition

The influence of sleep on cognition is investigated in an article titled “cognitive repercussions of sleep and sleep loss” by Matthew (2008). Even though sleep accounts for a larger amount of people’s lives, many concerns about the role of sleep in physiological functioning remain unresolved. Many hypotheses about sleep have been proposed, including thermoregulation, homeostatic restoration, immunological control, tissue repair, and memory processing. Furthermore, sleep loss has been shown to alter metabolic characteristics like insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Sleep has long been recognized to play an important function in learning and memory. Thus, a critical hypothesis is that sleep results to a significant contribution to an individual’s cognition level.

Previous Research

According to Mathew, in 1801, scholars such as David Hartley suggested that when a person is dreaming, they tend to alter the strength of the neural associative memory connections. Concerning this hypothesis, the original systematic determination of the links between sleep and memory took place in 1924, when evidence indicated that memory retention capability was much better after a night’s sleep. Since then, sleep-dependent cognition became a specific concept that attracted many scholars who have formulated numerous theories in the last ten years. The development of succinct and remarkable explanations of the sleep-dependent procession of memory has been challenged by the complexities ingrained in what constitutes memory and sleep. Sleep is described as the rapid movement of the eyes (REM) sleep and (non-REM) sleep. Correspondingly, memory is described as a single entity that divides into memory stages and types. Due to the existing number of different memory and sleep stages, the number of dynamic ways that different sleep states might interrelate and impact on distinct aspects of the memory is something to be considered. In this study, the researcher focused on REM and non-REM sleep to understand how they influenced encoding/acquisition and the consolidation of procedural and episodic memory.

The consolidation of motor skill memories

Using computer sequential finger-tapping tasks, learning, and sleep yielded into enhanced and consolidated motor skill memories. In this study, the researcher tested motor skill performance after offline time delays. Every participant then underwent training and retesting, with variations the conditions of sleep in the two groups being enforced to establish the consolidation benefits of the time one was awake, wake-time followed by sleep and finally sleep then wake-time. After 12 hours of wake-time, there was no significant enhancement in motor performance. Conversely, significant improvements in motor performance were discovered following a night of sleep. Also, enhancement in performance was observed in those who went to sleep immediately after training and in individuals whose sleep was initiated for 12 hours after training. The analyses of individuals in sleep exposed a significant connection between the percentage of overnight’s motor skill enhancement and stage 2 non-REM sleep, but there was no correlation in other stages of sleep. Additional analyses of the motor skill enhancement indicated an association in some parts of stage 2 non-REM sleep in the fourth quarter of the period of sleep. Therefore, the outcomes of the study provided answers to the hypothesis.

The effects of naps during the day on memory consolidation

Basing on facts that there exists a consolidation of motor skill memories with a night’s sleep and correlation with stage 2 non-REM, the effects of naps during the day on memory consolidation have been discovered in recent studies. Moreover, other studies have confirmed sleep-dependent advantages for declarative memory. Such discoveries are exciting when compared to prior studies, which indicated that there is no effect. The pattern of learning tasks transits from formation and retention of entirely novel links to the strengthening well-established associations for recalling during testing. In light of these, the role of sleep in the consolidation of declarative memory, instead of being absolute, relies on more subtle components of consolidation tasks. Mathew demonstrates a high level of intellectual understanding of the propositions constituting sleep implications on cognition. Using several studies to back up his ideas, it becomes clear and simpler for the reader to connect all pieces into making their inferences regarding the topic. However, the only weakness prevalent in the article is the organization of ideas. He does not seem to prioritize ideas regarding relevance to this topic, which slightly makes him wander off the subject.


In conclusion, the article seemed to agree with the topic, “How Sleep Effects Cognition". Moreover, previous researches have indicated a considerable influence of sleep on memory processing, which in my case is cognition. Most of these studies organize their participants into groups and subject them to different conditions of sleep while assessing their motor response behaviors or abilities. In this case, it is easier to identify and pinpoint the relevant aspects of cognition based on the amount of information that different participants are able to recall at a given time period. In most studies, direct observation, interviews, or questionnaires are used in the collection of data. However, in this study, a survey methodology will be used in collecting data. Finally, the researcher hypothesized that the most significant thing we should understand is that sleep plays a crucial role in the modulation and regulation of our memory processes.


Matthew, P. W. (2008). Cognitive consequences of sleep and sleep loss. Sleep Medicine, 9(1), S29–S34.

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