Sleep is important for rest, but even though we’re not aware of it, our brain is working hard during sleep. Among the most important jobs of a good night’s sleep is to help us remember. And sleep isn’t just important for one type of memory: there are multiple sleep stages that all play important roles in building memory, and, unfortunately, sleep apnea can interrupt them all.

Stage 2 Sleep

A man suffering from memory lossStage 2 sleep is a relatively light sleep. It is sometimes called preparatory sleep, as it helps your body prepare for deep sleep. There are periods of short bursts of brain activity called spindles. Stage 2 sleep helps consolidate muscle memory. Muscle memory is when you teach your muscles to perform actions without you having to consciously control the actions minutely. You just think the final result, and your muscles achieve it, even if it is comprised of a complex series of actions.  Examples include driving a car, playing sports, writing, and playing music.

Deep Sleep

Deep sleep, normally described as stage 3 and stage 4 sleep is when brain waves slow down, your heartbeat slows, and your body tends not to move.

Deep sleep is important to consolidating “declarative memories,” which are memories that you can recall primarily by word or number, such as baseball stats or historical information.

Deep sleep is very valuable for people who are going to school or who have to be prepared to handle numbers or have them at ready recall as part of their job.

REM Sleep

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when your brain and body become more active than at other parts of sleep. Your eyes move, as the name implies, but sometimes, too, you may move your limbs as well. REM sleep plays a role in nearly all types of memories. It helps with declarative memories, but also motor memories, and even emotional memories.

Are You Getting the Right Kind of Sleep?

Chances are, you know that getting good sleep means more than just spending 8 hours in bed. Instead, it’s important to let your body pass through the different stages of sleep uninterruptedly to get the full benefit of sleep.

Sleep apnea interferes with this. The intermittent periods of wakefulness that come from having your air supply blocked prevent you from achieving and spending adequate time in all the different stages of sleep, which leads to memory problems among other effects of sleep apnea.

If you have noticed memory problems as well as daytime sleepiness, you should be tested for sleep apnea.

Please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.