A research has warned that missing just two hours of sleep is enough to stop the brain from laying down and storing memories, and can result in complete loss of any recollection.
The Society for Neuroscience's annual conference heard that simply dropping from eight hours of sleep to six could make the difference.
Advertisement"I think what it really means for modern life is that sleep is not a luxury," the Daily Mail quoted researcher Ted Abel as saying at the New Orleans conference.
"It is really critically important for the brain and for the brain to function and for you to be able to really remember and consolidate what's happened to you over the day.
"I think we often feel that if we could grab a cup of coffee and answer five more emails, we would have done everything we could do. Sometimes it might be better to go to sleep and deal with it after," he said.
Professor Abel and his team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at how mice, who were stopped from sleeping, fared on a memory task.
The rodents were kept awake for varying amounts of time to pinpoint just how little sleep had to be lost for their recall to be damaged.
"What we found is that when we deprived animals of sleep, that impaired storage of memories," Abel said.
"And most importantly we found out that a very short period of time would block memory consolidation, it was as short as three hours, which for mice is something like 20 percent of their sleep over 24 hours.
"In human terms, it would be the equivalent of dropping an eight-hour night of sleep to six hours, which is something we do all the time," he said.
It is believed that the replay of our memories while we are asleep is important for their proper storage in the brain.
Professor Abel added that any information lost due to less sleep is gone forever - meaning that sleeping longer the next night won't bring it back.