Remember the last time you forgot something? Did you forget about the last time this happened? Chances are, you were probably sleep deprived.
There are tons of studies showing that even mild sleep deprivation can have detrimental effects on memory and executive functioning. Now there’s new research from Stanford University showing that sleep fragmentation can be just as detrimental as sleep deprivation. The researchers figured out a way of fragmenting sleep in mice without causing any stress, using special lights to control genetically engineered brain neurons that control sleep and wake. By pulsing these cells with 10 second bursts of light, they could fragment sleep without significantly altering the quality and the composition of sleep, or the total sleep time.
Their conclusion was that “regardless of the total amount of sleep, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation.”
Another research tool that’s used to measure deep sleep instability is what’s called cyclic alternating pattern (CAP) analysis. Cyclic patterns of brief brain wave arousals were found to be more common in people with upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and fibromyalgia.
These studies support the general observation that people with people with UARS, fibromyalgia, or idiopathic hypersomnias have increased levels of subtle arousals that don’t get scored on a routine sleep studies.