The secret to deep sleep may be all in the spindles

Sleep spindles may help us block out noises and sleep more deeply. Credit: Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Detroit Sleep Health Examiner

Researchers at Harvard University’s Medical School think they have found the secret ingredient to uninterrupted sleep – sleep spindles. Their findings were presented in an issue of Current Biology.

The researchers studied the difference in noise sensitivity from one person to another while they slept. There results showed that there is a certain type of brain wave activity called “sleep spindles.” When these spindle rhythms occur at the same time as a noise, the noise is typically blocked from perception.

“More spindles make it more likely that noises will collide with this sleep-protecting rhythm”, said Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a neurologist and sleep specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Researchers found that people with more spindle rhythms were less likely to be awakened by noises such as telephones and car horns. However, little is known about what makes one person produce more spindles than another.

This research is considered to be the beginning to understanding sleep spindles and how they can assist in the development of future sleep therapies.

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