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General anesthesia drugs really do put patients to sleep, suggests research conducted in mice. Although the research with mice was revealing, experts also note that animal experiments don't always produce the same results when applied to human subjects.
The study found that the drugs don't just turn wakefulness off, they also switch on important sleep circuits in the brain, according to the findings, which were published online Oct. 25 in the journal Current Biology. There are important differences between natural sleep and the unconscious state caused by general anesthesia. Even the soundest sleeper can be awakened, but anesthetized patients remain unconscious throughout the trauma inflicted on their bodies during surgery.