Are your friends or family amazed at how you manage to sleep through just about anything? You can thank this fortunate ability on sleep spindles! Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Sleep Medicine have found these bursts of brain activity that occur only during sleep protect the brain from noise disruptions. Those that seem to sleep effortlessly despite noisy environments tend to have more of these spindles produced.
Researchers studied participants for three consecutive nights and varied the type and volume of different sounds as the subjects slept. Participants who produced more spindles had a higher resistance to waking from sounds. Interestingly, a 2007 study found a correlation between spindle rate and learning potential. The more spindles produced throughout the night, the higher the performance IQ and ability to consolidate memories. Despite these findings, it is still unclear as to why certain individuals produce more of these spindles than others. Scientists are hoping to continue this research to produce sleep aids for disruptive environments. For more information on the study, click here.
If you aren't lucky enough to have a heavy production of sleep spindles, try to make your environment as conducive to sleep as possible. Turn off your TV or music and relax in a dark, quiet space. If you need some sort of noise to fall asleep, set a fan in your room to act as white noise to block out any outside disruptions. Sleep rejuvenates the mind and body, be sure you get enough!