August 9th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Why some people can sleep through anything

Everyone, even the lightest sleeper, is less aware of noise while they sleep. So what helps us in blocking the outside world when we need to re-juice? And what makes some people deeper sleepers than others?

Dr. Jeff Ellenbogen, chief of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Sleep Medicine, led a study looking at particular brain waves called sleep spindles. How many spindles a person’s mind cranks out while sleeping predicts how deep he or she sleeps while bombarded with noise, his study in Current Biology found.

While sleeping, a person’s brain waves become slower and more regular. Sporadically, the brain has bursts of higher-frequency waves called sleep spindles. These bursts, which occur only when a person is sleeping, were dubbed “spindles” because they look like rolls of yarn on an electroencephalograph (EEG), which measures the electronic activity fired by neurons in the brain.

In the experiment, Ellenbogen studied healthy volunteers placed in a sleep laboratory for three consecutive nights. On the first night, participants could blissfully rest in a lofty queen-size bed and fresh, soft sheets without interruption. Ellenbogen and colleagues measured their brain rhythms and noted how often spindles occurred.

The second and third night, the researchers placed a speaker behind the sleepers and played everyday noises, such as alarm clocks or toilets flushing, at varying volumes and noted how loud a noise had to be before arousing each person. According to the study, those with higher spindle rates on the quiet night were more stable sleepers on the noisier nights.

As a person ages, he or she produces fewer spindles and is more sensitive to noises while sleeping. This could explain why people don’t sleep as well after getting older, Ellenbogen said.

Researchers have also found a correlation between spindle rate and learning potential. One study released in 2007 found that the more spindles pumped out while sleeping, the higher the person’s performance IQ was. The more spindles a person produces while they sleep, the better a person consolidates memories, Ellenbogen’s study report cites.

Long-term, Ellenbogen hopes to find natural ways to enhance sleep and all its benefits. We can’t always be in a quiet environment while getting some shut-eye, so he wants to help people make the best of their rest.

He wants to figure out whether sleeping drugs really catalyze genuine sleep or just a sleep-like state, and believes this link between spindles and deeper sleeping will be a tool in doing so.

Post by:
Filed under: Sleep

soundoff (411 Responses)
  1. RV Shower Riverside


    May 13, 2021 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Frightliner Sprinter Repair Shop


    May 13, 2021 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. rv entertainment system upgrade

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Kudos!


    May 13, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sprinter Repair Costs


    May 14, 2021 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dodge Sprinter Repair Shop


    May 14, 2021 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV AC Los Angeles


    May 14, 2021 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. windshield repair around me


    May 14, 2021 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. horse trailer air conditioner

    There's definately a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all the points you made.


    May 14, 2021 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. homes for sale rathdrum id

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!


    May 14, 2021 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. homes for sale around me


    May 14, 2021 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. realtor near me now

    Everything is very open with a very clear description of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 14, 2021 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Maserati Quattroportes


    May 14, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Eye Doctor Near Me Now

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!


    May 14, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Vision Centers Near Me

    I quite like looking through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!


    May 14, 2021 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. homes for sale hayden lake idaho


    May 14, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Maserati Grancabrio

    Great blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 15, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Maserati Meme


    May 15, 2021 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. houses for sale bayview

    I really love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my own personal blog and would like to know where you got this from or what the theme is called. Kudos!


    May 15, 2021 at 06:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. cyclomune

    cyclosporine pharmacology buy cyclomune uk

    May 15, 2021 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. repairing rv blinds


    May 15, 2021 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. brimonidine

    brimonidine tartrate 2% buy brimonidine online

    May 15, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. storno brzinol

    Very interesting topic, thanks for posting.


    May 15, 2021 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. repair rv floor

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, however I genuinely believed you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you can fix if you were not too busy searching for attention.


    May 15, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. avana

    buy avana buy avana

    May 16, 2021 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Social Media Marketing Pictures


    May 16, 2021 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Seo Marketing Specialist

    That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 16, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. brimonidine

    combigan eye drops 2% brimonidine generic

    May 16, 2021 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Leave a Reply to alprostadil generic prices


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.