Season 6 | Episode 7


There are a handful of direct-to-consumer devices that claim to improve the quality of our sleep by using acoustic stimulation. What is the science behind these devices? Dr. Roneil Malkani is an associate professor of neurology in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. He collaborates with others to study acoustic stimulation during sleep and its impact on sleep architecture. He describes how these devices work and how clinicians should approach them.

Roneil Malkani, MD, MS, is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University and a neurologist at Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Malkani completed a neurology residency at Northwestern University, followed by fellowships in movement disorders and sleep medicine. Dr. Malkani’s expertise lies in sleep and circadian rhythm dysfunction in aging and neurodegenerative disease, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease, REM sleep behavior disorder, and restless legs syndrome. His research experience includes using acoustic stimulation to enhance slow wave sleep and memory. Dr. Malkani serves on the board of the Illinois Sleep Society and on committees for the American Academy of Neurology and American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


  1. Papalambros NA, Weintraub S, Chen T, Grimaldi D, Santostasi G, Paller KA, Zee PC, Malkani RG Ann Clin Transl Neurol. 2019 Jul; 6(7): 1191-1201. Acoustic enhancement of sleep slow oscillations in mild cognitive impairment.
  2. Grimaldi D, Papalambros NA, Reid KJ, Abbott SM, Malkani RG, Gendy M, Iwanaszko M, Braun RI, Sanchez DJ, Paller KA, Zee PC. Sleep. 2019 May; 42(5). Strengthening sleep-autonomic interaction via acoustic enhancement of slow oscillations.
  3. Papalambros NA, Santostasi G, Malkani RG, Braun R, Weintraub S, Paller KA, Zee PC. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017; 11: 109. Acoustic enhancement of sleep slow oscillations and concomitant memory improvement in older adults.
  4. Santostasi G, Malkani R, Riedner B, Bellesi M, Tononi G, Paller KA, Zee PC. J Neurosci Methods. 2016 Feb; 259: 101-114. Phase-locked loop for precisely timed acoustic stimulation during sleep.