Sleep Supports Memory and Learning: Implications for Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology


    This tutorial aims to draw attention to the interactions among memory, sleep, and therapy potential and to increase awareness and knowledge in the field of speech-language pathology of the potential impact of sleep as a mediating or moderating factor in promoting therapeutic outcome.


    We highlight key findings from the literature on the cognitive neuroscience of memory, the neurophysiology of sleep, how sleep supports memory, and how sleep disruption affects memory and learning abilities in populations commonly served in speech-language pathology.


    Research increasingly points to the critical importance of sleep quality and quantity to memory and learning, and sleep disruption is linked to deficits in functional cognition that may limit our clients' ability to benefit from speech pathology interventions.


    As a field dedicated to promoting memory, learning, and relearning through our interventions, any systemic factors that affect these abilities demand our attention. Although speech-language pathologists do not treat sleep disturbance, we play a critical role in recognizing the signs and symptoms of sleep disturbance and making appropriate referrals, as undiagnosed and untreated sleep disturbance can have serious impacts on success in therapeutic contexts. By considering how related factors affect memory and learning, we have the opportunity to take a whole client approach to maximizing our clients' therapy potential and functional progress.


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