Can going from a highly intensive and stressful environment to one which is calm and relaxed impact long-term memory or, specifically, one's ability to easily recall information?

For example, I have spent the past year in a very intense and stressful academic environment where I would often go for days without sleep. During this time, I was able to quickly recall information and do very well. However, now that I am on "summer break" I am noticing that my memory is not as sharp. Specifically, I am having difficulty recalling names and specific pieces of information that I should know. This occurs on only on occasion and only happens with things that are more obscure or non-essential (i.e. couldn't come up with the name to a song I know all of the lyrics to. I knew the title immediately once I saw it).

This has happened to me once before while on break and shortly after returning to work I noticed that my memory had returned to normal. This only happens with names and it almost feels as though there is a mental block preventing me from remembering.

Is there an explanation as to why this is occurring?

As a note: I am still a teenager so age is hopefully not a factor.

  • $\begingroup$ Are the names of people you've recently met or met long ago? It seems like you may be talking about longterm memory. Also, are you doing any sort of mental work on your breaks? $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2016 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @ReedRawlings Sorry, posted under a different account accidentally. It really only relates to relatively obscure names and pieces of information (nothing practical). I believe now that you are correct and that it is really my long-term memory. For example, I have read Moby Dick and Billy Budd but I can't come up with who wrote them or I can't come up with the Fed President who preceeded Alan Greenspan (both are things I learned years ago). Like I said though, this only tends to happen when I am on break (doing little to no real mental work due to stressful nature of the year). $\endgroup$
    – Ghost Koi
    Jul 14, 2016 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ @GhostKoi You said that you were able to quickly recall information during the year, would you consider this to be more of a testing environment? The authot of Moby Dick isn't a very useful fact outside of someone asking the direct question (testing). So I'm wondering if your quick recall was centered around learning a fact, reciting it for a test, then not using it frequently after? If so, this likely relates to a lack of sleep and trivial information. Further I imagine the break isn't the issue its the change of relatively short need of information versus longterm need. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2016 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ @ReedRawlings Yes, I would definitely characterize it as a testing environment. Would this impact pieces of information that weren't directly related to testing though, like my inability to recall the name of a song I have know for a year? I should note that I can recall most "obscure" names easily, if not without a little bit of effort, during break. $\endgroup$
    – Ghost Koi
    Jul 14, 2016 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ If the song name was a one off its probably a fluke. We also tend to prioritize lyrics over names. Kind of like remembering an actors character not the actor. I think I've got enough info to attempt an answer after work. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2016 at 17:28