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 (937 Responses)
  1. Leadership Principles Amazon


    June 27, 2021 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. nice white parents podcast

    Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after going through some of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly pleased I discovered it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 27, 2021 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. planet money podcast

    I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    June 27, 2021 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. michael berry podcast


    June 27, 2021 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Authoritarian Leadership


    June 27, 2021 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. pharmaceptica.com

    sildenafil pills in india https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 27, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repairs Nearby

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something relating to this.


    June 27, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dodge Sprinter Mechanic


    June 27, 2021 at 17:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 3.0 Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    I blog often and I seriously appreciate your content. The article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 27, 2021 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Repair Shop


    June 27, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Wheelchair Van Repair


    June 27, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repairs Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this amazing site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!


    June 27, 2021 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Nearby RV Repairs

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Well written!


    June 28, 2021 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Orange County California

    I like it whenever people come together and share ideas. Great website, stick with it!


    June 28, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Promaster Van Conversion Shop Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Heater Contol Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Around Me


    June 28, 2021 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Van Sliding Door Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Nearest RV Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mercedes High Top Van Repair Shop


    June 28, 2021 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mercedes Sprinter Body Repair


    June 28, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Van Repair Shop

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!


    June 28, 2021 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 2009 Stuck Intake Dodge Sprinter Repair

    This is the perfect blog for anyone who wishes to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic that has been discussed for years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!


    June 28, 2021 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Custom Van Repair Shop

    You've made some really good points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    June 28, 2021 at 22:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 28, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Leisure Travel Van Repair Shop Near Me


    June 28, 2021 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Repair Near My Location


    June 29, 2021 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    After looking into a few of the blog posts on your blog, I really like your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.


    June 29, 2021 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. pharmaceptica

    erectile smoothie https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Near Me


    June 29, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Repair Shop For Mercedes Sprinter Vans

    bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!


    June 29, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Orange County

    Hi there, I think your site may be having web browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic website!


    June 29, 2021 at 05:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Near Me

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you postÖ


    June 29, 2021 at 05:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. pharmaceptica

    buy tadalafil powder https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. pharmaceptica

    tadalafil mechanism https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. pharmaceptica

    can erectile dysfunction be healed https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 29, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Luxury Van

    After looking into a number of the blog articles on your web page, I honestly like your way of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website as well and tell me how you feel.


    June 29, 2021 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Business Van Repair Shop Near Me

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 29, 2021 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Repair Cost On Mercedes Sprinter Van


    June 29, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Mercedes Luxury Van Repair

    Excellent article! We are linking to this particularly great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.


    June 29, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Side Door Repair

    Great post. I will be going through many of these issues as well..


    June 29, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Van Paint Shop

    This is the right site for anyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed for many years. Excellent stuff, just wonderful!


    June 30, 2021 at 00:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair

    Hi, I do believe your web site may be having browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic blog!


    June 30, 2021 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Rv Mechanic Shop Near Me


    June 30, 2021 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Huntington Beach

    Itís difficult to find knowledgeable people on this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 30, 2021 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    Good post. I certainly appreciate this site. Thanks!


    June 30, 2021 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Camper Repair Near Me


    June 30, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    You are so cool! I do not suppose I've read anything like that before. So wonderful to discover somebody with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that's needed on the web, someone with some originality!


    June 30, 2021 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Leave a Reply to Social Media Marketing Firms Near Me


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.