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A slight electrical stimulation of the brain reduces the need for sleep. They performed transcranial direct current stimulation in healthy subjects, in which a very weak current is conducted through the skull. The treatment reduced the need for sleep by an average of 25 minutes.
In the test subjects, direct current stimulation significantly reduced the need for sleep without negative effects on concentration, alertness and memory development. The basis for making people feel awake and well-rested is a balanced high level of brain activation. This is controlled by so-called arousal processes in the brain and can be measured using an electroencephalogram.
In patients with Parkinson's, chronic depression, and brain damage, such as after a stroke, these arousal processes are often reduced, which can result in an extremely great need to sleep. For many patients, the usual therapeutic procedures, such as activation programs and medication, do not lead to a sufficient improvement. According to the scientists, electrostimulation could be an effective and well-tolerated type of treatment for these patients in the future.
In the study on 19 subjects, stimulation resulted in an average reduction in total sleep time of 25 minutes (sleep time after stimulation: 387 minutes; without stimulation: 412 minutes). The subjects showed no difference in comparison to the comparison subjects, neither in psychological tests nor in their self-assessment. The sleep architecture, i.e. the composition of light, deep and REM sleep, which is important for the processing of information at night, also remained unchanged. More information can be found here.