Stanford study finds interrupted sleep impairs memory
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00
A recent study by Stanford scientists found that when sleep is interrupted, memory may be impaired. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used a new method to awaken subjects without causing stress, since stress may affect memory as well.
The technique used light to affect certain brain cells, triggering mice to awaken without otherwise disturbing them. This allowed researchers to study the affects of sleep interruptions without affecting other factors, like total sleep time.
"Regardless of the total amount of sleep, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation," the authors wrote. The result was expected, since people with some neurological and psychiatric conditions that affect sleep continuity have been found to have memory deficits.
Further research is necessary to determine how much sleep and what sort of interruptions interfere with human memory, but the research indicated sleep interruptions are the cause of memory impairment, as suspected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one major cause of sleeping difficulties is stress. If workplace stress
interrupts sleep and leads to memory impairment, employee performance
may suffer as a result. Wellness programs can help employees manage and reduce anxiety, encouraging better performance.