Is music the secret to a good night's sleep? Researchers find it can improve quality AND boost your brainpower overnight
Listening to music while you sleep could improve your memory, according to a new study.
Researchers have discovered that playing sounds synchronised to the rhythm of the slow brain oscillations of people who are asleep enhances these oscillations which boosts their memory and improves the quality of their sleep.
It has long been known that slow oscillations in brain activity, which occur during so-called slow-wave sleep, are critical for retaining memories.
However, it has only just been established that sound can be used to enhance these oscillations
Co-author Dr Jan Born, of the University of Tübingen in Germany, said: ‘The beauty lies in the simplicity of applying auditory stimulation at low intensities.
‘This approach is both practical and ethical if compared, for example, with electrical stimulation.
‘Therefore, it portrays a straightforward tool for clinical settings to enhance sleep rhythms.’
Dr Born and his colleagues conducted tests on 11 people during which they exposed the participants to sound stimulations.
When the volunteers were exposed to stimulating sounds that were in sync with the brain's slow oscillation rhythm, they were better able to remember word associations they had learned the evening before.
Stimulation out of phase with the brain's slow oscillation rhythm was ineffective.
Dr Born said: ‘Importantly, the sound stimulation is effective only when the sounds occur in synchrony with the on-going slow oscillation rhythm during deep sleep.
‘We presented the acoustic stimuli whenever a slow oscillation "up state" was upcoming, and in this way we were able to strengthen the slow oscillation, so that it showed higher amplitude and occurred for longer periods.’
The researchers suspect that this technique might also be able to improve sleep.
Dr Born said: ‘It might even be used to enhance other brain rhythms with obvious functional significance—like rhythms that occur during wakefulness and are involved in the regulation of attentio