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Sleep Disorders

10 August 2010

Secrets of sound sleep uncovered

Ever wonder how some people can sleep through thunderstorms and traffic noise, while others wake up at the slightest sound? Differences in people's brain rhythms during sleep may hold the answer, scientists say.

Ever wonder how some people can sleep through thunderstorms and traffic noise, while others wake up at the slightest sound? Differences in people's brain rhythms during sleep may hold the answer, scientists say.

These spindle rhythms are generated by a structure in the brain called the thalamus, which is responsible for relaying sensory information from the outside world to other parts of the brain. It's thought that the thalamus might generate these sleep spindles as a way to prevent sensory input (such as loud noise) from reaching the sleeping brain.

The study

 

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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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