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Sleeping pills may improve memory

24-04-2013

You rarely read anything good about sleeping pills; in fact, you have probably never read anything positive about them as they are widely demonised despite the fact that they play an important role in helping those with sleep disorders or personal issues that stop them from getting to sleep. Like most things they have their limits and when someone is dependent on them, they turn from a cure for lack of sleep to a cause of sleep deprivation.  However, recent research has found that sleeping pills might have a more positive role in all of our sleep: they seem to improve memory.

Memory and sleep are intimately connected, numerous studies have shown that people who have sleep well will be better able to remember previous days’ tasks and information. The mechanism behind that connection is close to being discovered as researchers have found that a commonly prescribed sleeping tablet containing zolpidem enhances this embedding of memories during sleep.

The new research  has shown the critical role that sleep spindles (bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during sleep) play in consolidating memory in the hippocampus. The sleeping pills somehow empower these spindles thus enabling great memory embedding.


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