New Research: Anesthesia More Like a Coma than Sleep

Most people, when visiting the hospital for surgery, are told the anesthesia will put them to sleep so the doctors can do their work.  New research shows, however, that being put “under” is actually much more like a coma than sleep.

Anesthesia is obviously a common practice for surgery, and has been for hundreds of years. Without it, operations would be torturous. However, what happens to your brain during the surgery is only now becoming clear.  Authors of a new study compared the physical signs and electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns of general anesthesia to those of sleep.  The researchers found significant differences between the sleeping and being under the influence of anesthesia, with only the deepest stages of sleep being similar to the lightest phases of anesthesia induced by some kinds of agents.

Scientists from the University of Michigan and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York who conducted the study say that while natural sleep normally cycles through a predictable series of phases, general anesthesia involves the patient being taken to and maintained at the phase most appropriate for the procedure, and the phases of general anesthesia at which surgery is performed are most similar to states of coma.

Source: ABC News