x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

How to sleep soundly

A German study promises better future for those who are deprived of sleep, or are worried about their productivity and memory.

Have you ever slept with a text book under your pillow, naively hoping you might become a maths or science whizz overnight through osmosis? Silly as it sounds, students the world over have done just that before exams.

Scientists, meanwhile, have been exploring the relationship between sleep and memory in a more realistic way.

Their relentless curiosity and experiments have led to some surprising results. Take the latest example: German scientists last week said they have found a way to boost memory by playing sounds synchronised to the rhythm of the slow brain oscillations of a sleeper. In the study, published in the journal Neuron, the authors said that this approach may help improve sleep quality, as well as productivity when we're awake.

But another news item about sleep, one detailed in The National today, will probably resonate with more people here: half of Dubai's population suffers from regular sleep disturbances. The study was conducted by Hassan Al Hariri, who runs a sleep clinic at Dubai's Rashid Hospital.

As with so many scientific findings, the German study promises a better future. That's fine, but many of us are all too awake to the fact that we needed a better night's sleep last night.