Friday, April 5, 2013

Some sleep aids may boost memory by changing sleep

When I perform sleep studies on my patients, one way I have of knowing that a patient is in a certain stage of sleep is by one of their brain wave patterns. One such pattern that is commonly associated with light, non-dream sleep is sleep spindles. Sleep researchers have discovered that certain disorders that can affect memory, like Alzheimer's and schizophrenia, have a reduce amount of sleep spindles. And certain medications can increase the number of spindles. So researchers did a test to see if taking one of these medicine to increase the spindle frequency improved memory. One of the medications was Ambien. The results showed an increase in spindles and an improvement in verbal memory. And the improvement was better than plain sleep. This is exciting, as it may allow us to improve memory in certain people.

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