29 Sep Can noise help you sleep?
We have all heard of calming music to help you sleep, and those audio books to help you “learn while you sleep”. The calming music may help some of us relax and subsequently fall asleep faster, whereas it is not likely that audio books will actually help you learn while asleep.
Recently Leminen et al from the Finnish institute of occupational learning in Helsinki, Finland looked at using sounds matched to brain activity to improve learning. This was published in the journal of Sleep Volume 40, Issue 3, 1 March 2017. What the authors did was to link or phase lock the sounds to the peak of the delta waves present in Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). SWS or deep sleep which has been shown to improve learning and memory. The stimulus used was SWS-targeted individually triggered single-sound stimulation. This stimulus was automated for use in the home or ambulatory environment (environment away from the laboratory). What the researchers found was that the subjects did improve memory recall of auditory stimulus, heard throughout the day. The memory effect of this form of auditory stimulus is specific to verbal associated memory.
Takeaways: it is only early days, but the ambulatory nature of this stimulation device may allow for further investigation into the effects of auditory stimulus during sleep. This would help us further understand the neural underpinnings of memory consolidation of sleep.
Science Fiction takeaways: A “sleep cap” that plays sounds, produces lights and even electrical stimulation to improve cognitive function of those who use it when sleeping. Thus making a population of super smart humans, ready to face whatever antagonist the authors dream up (excuse the pun). Those space aliens won’t stand a chance… especially when the Jedi get their hands on the “sleep cap”.
Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsx003