Interrupted sleep can have adverse effects on our memories, a study suggests—a theory that could help explain memory troubles among sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers disrupted sleep in mice using specialized light techniques, the BBC reports, and the mice later had more trouble recognizing objects that should have been familiar. The mice spent just as long studying objects they’d seen before as they spent investigating new objects, pointing to a memory problem.
“Regardless of the total amount of sleep or sleep intensity, a minimal unit of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation,” the scientists said. “During the day, we accumulate all these memories,” noted an independent expert. “There are some things that we need to 'lock down' as a permanent hard memory. That process occurs in deep sleep. So anything that affects sleep will have an effect on that process.”