Research shows that a balanced diet promotes brain function and development
and can help prevent some behavioural and learning problems. Sleep also
aids brain plasticity. Most scientists agree that the majority of brain related
functions require sleep – especially memory formation (recent experiences
are reprocessed during sleep, offline so to speak). This is related to
plasticity where certain connections are reinforced and others are pruned.
Lack of sleep is bad for mood and behaviour.
Studies have shown that one third of children suffer from sleep problems. Humans tend to have increased daytime sleepiness at puberty.
In WW2 spies used the method of learning dialects, accents and habits whilst sleeping. Communist Eastern European countries experimented with this – especially languages. However the methods of doing this research have been called in to question. Western studies have not found any evidence to support the statement that learning could be done whilst asleep. This would include CDs to play whilst asleep eg stop smoking, weight loss.
Studies from away back to the 1920s and 30s has found that facts (short stories and syllables without meaning) are best remembered if they were said just before sleep.
Click here to explore Diet and the brain.