Sleeping pills could improve your memory

Sleeping pills could improve your memory

Researchers found that a commonly prescribed sleep aid enhances the process.

Taking sleeping pills could help a person improve his memory,a controversial new study has claimed.

Researchers have confirmed the mechanism that enables the

brain to consolidate memory and found that a commonly

prescribed sleep aid enhances the process.

The discovery could lead to new sleep therapies that will

improve memory for ageing adults and those with dementia,

Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Earlier research found a correlation between sleep spindles – bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep – and consolidation of memories that depend on the hippocampus.

The hippocampus,part of the cerebral cortex,is important

in the consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory,and spatial navigation. The hippocampus is


one of the first regions of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s.

Sara C Mednick from the University of California Riverside

and her team demonstrated,for the first time,the critical

role that sleep spindles play in consolidating memory in the

hippocampus,and they showed that pharmaceuticals could

significantly improve that process,far more than sleep alone.

“We found that a very common sleep drug can be used to

increase verbal memory,” said Mednick,the lead author of the


“This is the first study to show you can manipulate sleep

to improve memory. It suggests sleep drugs could be a powerful tool to tailor sleep to particular memory disorders,” Mednick said in a statement.

A total of 49 men and women between the ages of 18 and 39

who were normal sleepers were given varying doses of zolpidem (Ambien) or sodium oxybate (Xyrem),and a placebo,allowing several days between doses to allow the pharmaceuticals to leave their bodies.

Researchers monitored their sleep,measured sleepiness and

mood after napping,and used several tests to evaluate their


They found that zolpidem significantly increased the

density of sleep spindles and improved verbal memory


“(P)harmacologically enhancing sleep spindles in healthy

adults produces exceptional memory performance beyond that


seen with sleep alone or sleep with the comparison drug

(sodium oxybate),” the researchers said.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s,dementia and schizophrenia

also experience decreases in sleep spindles,according to the

study published in the Journal of Neuroscience.