The secret to a great night's sleep

Sleep your way to happiness

The first major study that measures and proves the negative effects of poor sleep on memory and quality of day-to-day life suggests you may be able to sleep your way to happiness.

While past research has shown sleep is fundamental to our ability to lay down new memories, remember important things and forget information we no longer need in order for our brain to function normally, this new study goes one step further by measuring and proving it for the very first time.

We worked with psychologists at the University of Leeds to look at the effects of sleep on memory and how people function day-to-day, outside of a lab, among the general public.

It conclusively proved that sleep not only boosts everyday memory but, as a result, also improves overall physical and emotional health and wellbeing.

The study measured sleep (quality, quantity and duration) against everyday memories. The five everyday memories people were asked to measure against were having to check whether they've done something; forgetting to tell somebody something important; forgetting where things are normally kept; forgetting to do something they intended to do such as post a letter or take medication and finding it difficult to concentrate or remember information.

While both sleep and memory have their own impact on quality of life, the data suggests that a lack of sleep can also lead to poor memory which, in turn, can have a negative effect on quality of life.

Dr Anna Weighall, development cognitive psychologist and sleep expert at University of Leeds said: "Good sleep leads to improved memory performance and this leads to a better quality of life; it has long been said this is the case and we have noticed such findings in a lab but this is the first time we have gone out to people in their everyday lives and achieved measurable results.  It proves to us beyond doubt that those people getting a good night's sleep can potentially have a better quality of life and hopefully, as a result, be happier.

"Of course, there are other factors affecting memory over and above sleep, but at this stage they are poorly understood and could be difficult to change. This is not the case with sleep and there are many things we can do to improve it." 

Silentnight's sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan said: "With more than a quarter of Brits sleeping for less than five hours a night, there is no wonder that this lack of sleep is having a major effect on memory and happiness."

"If you're struggling to get the recommended 7-8 hours at night, learning to power nap during the day can be a great way to boost both our brains and our mood. I would recommend taking 10-20minutes, in which you allow your body to totally relax, ideally in the afternoon when energy levels dip."

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To see more of Dr Nerina's sleep tips, go to 

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