Health Discoveries in General Health News

Brain rhythm may be related to disturbed sleep

April 29, 2011
People who have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep without tossing and turning, may benefit from neuroscience research under way at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

A research team at MGH found that a brain rhythm normally associated with wakefulness can become intensified during sleep and increase the chance of being awakened by noise or other disturbances.

The research team tested 13 volunteers in the hospital sleep lab by using electroencephalography (EEG) rhythms while they slept and repeated background noises at intervals and increasingly louder levels. The EEG measurements of the sleepers' alpha signal, a specific brain rhythm, showed how easily the volunteers could be disturbed.

"We found that the alpha rhythm is not just a marker of the transition between sleep and wakefulness but carries rich information about sleep stability," said Scott McKinney, informatics manager at the MGH Sleep Lab.

Published in the journal PloS One, the study may uncover more effective treatments for people who suffer from insomnia or who are too easily disturbed once they get to sleep.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a clinical trial is under way that focuses on ways to treat "obstructive" sleep apnea, a complex sleep disorder in which a blockage occurs in the airway during sleep.
 
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