Sleep and Your Memory

How well do you sleep? Some nights you may do better than others.  The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta reports that 50 to 70 million adults in the United States have some form of sleep deficiency. Maybe you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or wake up too often. It is a nationwide epidemic so there are a lot of people out there complaining about their memory when part of the solution may be getting a better night’s sleep. Lack of sleep also impacts your overall health and quality of life.

When I had a major health issue in my late 30’s, I usually slept less than 4 hours per night for more than 3 months and walked around in fog, trying to work and manage a household. Basically I operated on automatic pilot and felt like my thinking and energy were serious issues. Through the years many of my clients with sleep issues have voiced more frequent complaints about their memory. While some of them may have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, many still struggle with finding a solution.

An excellent resource about sleep disorders is the recent information compiled by Belleruth Naparstek, a psychotherapist and holistic practitioner who is a pioneer in the field of guided imagery. Her website, Health Journeys   has a wealth of resources, including guided imagery tapes to assist with a variety of challenges including insomnia. She offers many resources for those seeking tools to help stop the chatter which often interferes with a person’s ability to enjoy a good night’s sleep without the aid of medications. This report gives information on what causes sleep insufficiency, and suggested tips for getting a better night’s sleep. Here are a few of her suggestions.

~ Reduce the clutter and make your bedroom pleasing to the eye. Despite the fact that my office is in my home, I cannot think of a time when I work on my laptop there or pile up any paperwork for my projects.

~ If you read before going to sleep on a device with backlighting, avoid it because that kind of light wakes up your brain. While it can be easier to hold than a book, sometimes my choice is to listen to a book on CD when my mind is too preoccupied.  Generally I listen for 5 -10 minutes then fall asleep.

~ If you start feeling sleepy before your regular bedtime, do something that keeps you engaged or moving around like calling friend, or some light exercise, but not anything too strenuous. I have a simple computer game I will do for about half an hour before going to bed that relaxes me and stops the chatter in my head if I was still working too close to bedtime.

If you sleep well, enjoy it. If you know someone with memory complaints or have phases of not sleeping as well, please share some of the resources.

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  Irish Proverb

Quick Link to all blogs and Memory Toolkit.  For more tips refer to Walking the Path to Memory Fitness One Week at a Time.

About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters ( and Communication Connection( She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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