Why can some people sleep through anything?

Thursday 16th December 2010
Submitted by Louise Ridley
ANONYMOUS

Because they sleep more deeply and have more of the bursts of brain activity known as sleep spindles. Everyone’s sleep differs, even though we all pass through the same four stages of non-REM sleep and several periods of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep every night. In the waking brain, a large area called the thalamus acts as a way-station for sounds, sights and other stimuli coming in, but during sleep it helps suppress them. Patterns called sleep spindles, that can be seen using an electro-encephalogram, reveal the start of non-REM sleep. Recent research has found that really deep sleepers – those who will ‘sleep through anything’ – have more sleep spindles than the rest of us. Whether you can increase your sleep spindles is still unknown. 

GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

How do animals recognise other members of their own species?
previous qanda Article
What size does a body of water have to be to be influenced by the Moon’s gravity?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

The bladder holds 400-600ml of urine. Normal urine production is around 1.5 litres every 24 hours, so that would give you nine or 10 hours to completely fill up. However you can drop to as little...

Height in humans is about 70 per cent genetic and 30 per cent environmental, but there are many different genes that all contribute to your final height. Women generally stop growing any taller...

Bones are largely a fibrous matrix of collagen fibres, impregnated with calcium phosphate. In warm, damp environments, bacteria and fungi will attack the collagen protein and the skeleton will...

The Mediterranean Sea is completely enclosed, apart from the 14km-wide Strait of Gibraltar and the 200m-wide Suez Canal, so water cycles very slowly and pollutants tend to accumulate. One third of...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...