Sleep deprivation can make us feel as though we're losing our minds. Now, a new study suggests that sleep disruption is actually destroying our memories.
The research used mice as test subjects and found that when sleep was disrupted, the mice found it harder to recognize familiar objects. Interestingly, the researchers used a genetic technique that allowed them to disrupt the sleep of the mice without affecting total sleep time or sleep quality.
After employing the sleep disruption technique, researchers dropped the mice into a box with two objects - one of which had been seen by the mice before. The mice were expected to spend more time investigating the new object, and they did. However, mice whose sleep had been disrupted spent an equal amount of time investigating both objects, suggesting their memories had been negatively affected by the sleep disruption.
This is an exciting finding as sleep disruption has been linked with conditions such as Alzheimer's. Hopefully we'll see more research on the impact of sleep disruption in the not too distant future.
Last updated: July 26, 2011