Rebecca Spencer, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UMass Amherst, joined Boston Public Radio on Wednesday to discuss her role in NOVA's newest special Mysteries of Sleep.

Sleeping has many health benefits and helps protect our memories, she said.

"What happens during the time that you're asleep is that your memories are put on replay and by replaying those memories, you're going to have a memory benefit," Spencer said. "We see pretty remarkable effects that following sleep you've protected the memory versus when you stay awake, what happens is a lot of decay of that memory."

NOVA's new special Mysteries of Sleep airs tonight at 9pm on WGBH-2.