The Science of Sleep: How it Affects Focus and Memory (30-minute version)

Jessica Payne
Jessica Payne
University of Notre Dame

Jessica Payne is the Nancy O’Neill Collegiate Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame, where she directs the Sleep, Stress, and Memory Lab. Her course, The Sleeping Brain, routinely sports a waitlist because of its immense popularity among Notre Dame students. In 2012, Professor Payne received the Frank O’Malley Undergraduate Teaching Award. She is also a two-time recipient of the Distinction in Teaching Award, and won the Award for Teaching Excellence at Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center.

Overview

The Science of Sleep and Stress: How they Affect Creativity, Focus, and Memory

What’s going on in your head while you sleep? The research of Notre Dame Professor Jessica Payne shows that the non-waking hours are incredibly valuable for your day-to-day life, especially for helping to commit information to memory and for problem-solving. If you ever thought sleep was just downtime between one task and the next, think again. The fact is, your brain pulls an all-nighter when you hit the hay. Many regions of the brain – especially those involved in learning, processing information, and emotion – are actually more active during sleep than when you’re awake. These regions are working together while you sleep, helping you process and sort information you’ve taken in during the course of the day. Professor Payne’s research has focused on what types of information are submitted to memory, and has been instrumental in better understanding how the brain stores the information. 

What Happens to Your Brain When You Sleep?

Sleep is critical for our brains and bodies, from decreasing risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease to bolstering our memory and emotional well-being. Sleep changes across the lifespan, from childhood to adolescence, adulthood to older adulthood. How can we maintain our top level of performance and health through all these fluctuations in our sleep? Professor Payne is an expert in sleep and cognition and will explain the moving target of sleep across the ages and its impact on mental and physical health and well-being. She will help people understand how to best combat these changes and work with them to benefit our lives. She will give tips on how to sleep better, including how to engineer the perfect nap! Along with learning how to use sleep to heighten creativity, productivity, memory and emotional well-being, older adults concerned with cognitive decline can learn about the role of sleep in this process and how to best regain control of sleep in order to bolster their brains and memory processes.

Sound interesting? It is. And useful too, as Professor Payne will outline all sorts of practical information on how to control your sleep habits to ensure maximum productivity.

Learn More About the Science of Sleep and the Science of Stress

For more lectures about health and the importance of sleep, check out Professor Jessica Payne’s psychology and lifestyle lectures in our video library. Sign up for One Day University Membership today for unlimited access to hundreds of talks and online lectures.

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