60-Second Science

Sound Sleepers' Brain Waves Block Sounds

People who can sleep through loud noises have more short bursts of fast brain waves, which may block the external sounds. Karen Hopkin reports

Ahhh, sleep. There’s nothing better than a nice, long, uninterrupted [LOUD NOISE]. Awwgh. I can’t sleep when there’s [NOISE]. But d’ya ever notice: noise [NOISE] doesn’t wake everyone. Now scientists have a better idea why. Because sound sleepers show a certain brain rhythm when they doze, findings published in the journal Current Biology. [Thien Thanh Dang-Vu et al.,]

To study the brain waves of a good night’s sleep, scientists invited volunteers to snooze in the lab. While the subjects caught some Zs, the researchers monitored their brain activity. They then subjected the sleepers to [NOISE] or [NOISE]. And they found that those who were able to slumber straight through all the [NOISE] showed more short bursts of faster brain waves. This activity, the scientists say, is the brain’s way of blocking out the [NOISE] and the [NOISE] while you’re trying to rest.

The scientists don’t yet know of any way to boost those sleep-saving brain waves. So until then, shut the door [DOOR SHUTTING], make sure the late show’s on a timer [TV SOUND], and try to have sweet dreams.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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