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Sleep Roundup

June 27, 2008

A common sleep disorder can damage one’s memory.


Can a sleep disorder cause brain damage? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

UCLA scientists report in the journal Neuroscience Letters that sleep apnea, marked be snoring and nighttime breathing difficulty, can cause damage to structures in the brain involved in memory. The structures are called mammilary bodies, and the team found that they were twenty percent smaller in people who suffer from sleep apnea. The research underscores the importance of seeking medical treatment for anyone with impaired nighttime breathing.

In other sleep news, everyone knows that athletes should get a good night’s rest. But Stanford scientists are discovering that it could mean the difference between first place and last place. The researchers worked with five members of the Stanford swim team, increasing their sleep duration to ten hours per night. The result? A whopping half-second off their 15-meter swim time. The researchers have gotten similar results with athletes in other sports. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS the Science Society.