Natural Sleep is Better than Sleeping Pills for Memory Consolidation; a New Study

Photo Credit: Pop Catalin

Photo Credit: Pop Catalin

Numerous studies have demonstrated that sleep promotes memory consolidation, but there is little research on the effect of sleeping pills on sleep-dependent memory consolidation.

Twenty-two participants with no sleep complaints underwent 3 conditions in a counterbalanced crossover study: (1) zolpidem-ER 12.5 mg (bedtime dosing), (2) zaleplon 10 mg (middle-of-the-night dosing), and (3) placebo. Memory testing was conducted before and after an 8-h sleep period, using a word pair association task (WPT; declarative memory) and a finger-tapping task (FTT; procedural memory).

Improvement in memory performance following sleep was lower with bedtime dosing of zolpidem-ER compared to placebo and middle-of-the-night dosing of zaleplon. There were no differences between placebo and zaleplon.

The results suggest that in some circumstances hypnotics may have the potential to reduce the degree of sleep-dependent memory consolidation and that drug-free sleep early in the night may ameliorate this effect.

JCSM – The Effect of Two Benzodiazepine Receptor Agonist Hypnotics on Sleep-Dependent Memory Consolidation.

If you have a difficulty falling asleep, please follow these sleep hygiene tips and minimize the use of sleeping pills, which should be used sparingly and under the guidance of a physician, preferably a sleep physician.

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