Sound Waves Boost Older Adults’ Deep Sleep, Memory

Sound Waves Boost Older Adults' Deep Sleep, Memory
Deep sleep is critical for memory consolidation. But beginning in middle age, deep sleep decreases substantially, which scientists believe contributes to memory loss in aging. Credit: © WavebreakMediaMicro / Fotolia

Deep sleep plays the essential role in memory combination. At the middle age, deep sleep decreases substantially which leads to memory loss in aging. But a new research suggests that gentle sound waves significantly enhanced deep sleep in older adults. It also improves their ability to recall words.

According to scientists from the Northwestern University, sound waves like waterfall rush synchronized to the rhythm of brain waves. This is a potential tool for enhancing memory in older populations and attenuating normal age-related memory decline.

To confirm this, scientists conducted a study where they involved 13 participants with the age of 60 and above. During the study, participants received one night of acoustic simulation and one night of sham simulation. The sham simulation procedure was like acoustic simulation. But, none of the participants listened to the noise. Scientists then asked participants to conduct a memory test at night and next morning as well.

They found that sham stimulation effectively improved on the morning test by a 3 percent. The degree of improved sleep is found to similar to the degree of memory improvement. That means, slow wave sleep remains important for memory, even in old age.

The earlier research suggested that acoustic simulation played during deep sleep could improve memory. But that was not tested in older adults. But in this new study, scientists mainly concentrated on older adults. Even, scientists used a new approach, which reads an individual’s brain waves in real-time. When participants listened to sham simulation, this approach locks the simulation during neuron communication during deep sleep. An algorithm next used to deliver the sound during the rising part of slow wave oscillations.

Senior author Dr. Phyllis Zee said, “This simulation enhances synchronization of the neurons’ activity. This is an innovative, simple and safe non-medication approach that may help improve brain health.

According to scientists, further study still must to confirm the efficacy of this method.

SEE MORE PERSPECTIVES