Book Offers Insight On Importance Of Sleep For Memory

Armen Hareyan's picture

If you want to optimize your memory and intelligence, grab some Z's. That's the message behind the new book "REM Illumination Memory Consolidation".

Written by Dr. Timothy J. Walter, a sleep medicine physician and neurologist, "REM Illumination Memory Consolidation" integrates different research findings on sleep and memory into the first-ever cohesive theory about the overall process. Dr. Walter has translated the complex neurobiology concepts into plain English so that any reader can understand and benefit from this information.


"REM Illumination" sheds light on at least one of the reasons why we dream: for the storage of new memories and their incorporation into the matrix of all our existing memories.

In the book, Dr. Walter describes how a sleeper's brain progressively cycles through sleep as it "uploads" and consolidates recent memories. While in REM sleep, dreaming is most vivid and the times of high dream action and emotion may be the conscious representation of this memory linking process.

The REM sleep in the first 90-minute sleep cycle is quite short. However, as we cycle through different stages of sleep, each REM sleep period gradually increases in length until the last cycle, where REM sleep may be more than an hour in duration.

"This means that seven to eight hours of high-quality sleep are probably required for optimal mental functioning," explained Walter. "Most of your REM sleep occurs during the last 90-minute cycle, so if you sleep for only five to six hours, you're cheating yourself out of the longest period of REM sleep. Sleep is like paying your mortgage. You pay only interest up front and don't get to the principle until the end. REM sleep is the principle."