Sleep deprivation could reduce intrusive memories

3 July 2015

Although a good night's sleep is often thought as a remedy for a lot of things, a new report has suggested that sleep deprivation could help people overcome traumatic events.

A team from Oxford University found reducing sleep could stop people from consolidating their memories of experimental trauma, reducing the trauma of flashbacks.

Published in the journal Sleep, the findings were based on research conducted at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi).

Dr Kate Porcheret, from Oxford's Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, said they wanted to determine whether sleep deprivation could have an impact on the development of intrusive memories.

The team showed participants a film of scenes with traumatic content and they were then either kept in a sleep laboratory and deprived of sleep or sent home to have a normal night's sleep in their own bed.
Participants were then asked to keep a diary of any intrusive memories so the research team could check that the intrusive images were linked to the film.

Dr Katharina Wulff, from the SCNi, said: "The sleep-deprived group experienced fewer intrusive memories than those who had been able to sleep normally. Both groups experienced more of these involuntary memories in the first two days and a reducing number in the following days." 

Posted by Edward Bartel

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