The impact of acoustic stimulation during sleep on memory and sleep architecture: A meta‐analysis
Stanyer EC., Baniqued PDE., Awais M., Kouara L., Davies AG., Killan EC., Mushtaq F.
SummaryThe relationship between sleep and cognition has long been recognized, with slow‐wave sleep thought to play a critical role in long‐term memory consolidation. Recent research has presented the possibility that non‐invasive acoustic stimulation during sleep could enhance memory consolidation. Herein, we report a random‐effects model meta‐analysis examining the impact of this intervention on memory and sleep architecture in healthy adults. Sixteen studies were identified through a systematic search. We found a medium significant effect of acoustic stimulation on memory task performance (g = 0.68, p = .031) in young adults <35 years of age, but no statistically significant effect in adults >35 years of age (g = −0.83, p = .223). In young adults, there was a large statistically significant effect for declarative memory tasks (g = 0.87, p = .014) but no effect for non‐declarative tasks (g = −0.25, p = .357). There were no statistically significant differences in polysomnography‐derived sleep architecture values between sham and stimulation conditions in either young or older adults. Based on these results, it appears that acoustic stimulation during sleep may only be an effective intervention for declarative memory consolidation in young adults. However, the small number of studies in this area, their small sample sizes, the short‐term nature of most investigations and the high between‐studies heterogeneity highlight a need for high‐powered and long‐term experiments to better elucidate, and subsequently maximise, any potential benefits of this novel approach.