Sleep has a lot of benefits but now researchers are finding that it might also be helpful for people who have just experienced a traumatic event. A new study found that when participants slept after watching traumatic events, they were less affected by the traumatic memories than those who didn’t sleep. Sleeping participants had less emotionally distressing memories related to the traumatic events than those who did not sleep. Researchers think that this might mean that sleep can act as a protective mechanism for people who have experienced traumatic events and possible help those who suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
However, another similar study found some slightly conflicting information. The study showed promising results for the age old advice to “never go to sleep angry.” The researchers found that when a follow up test was performed 24 hours after establishing negative memories (and after sleep), the participants were more likely to remember those images the next day than the group who had a follow up test just after 30 minutes.
These studies present some interesting, albeit somewhat conflicting information. But, what is clear is that sleep plays some interesting role in retaining negative and traumatic memories. Perhaps more research is needed, but there will typically be some sort of limitation when it comes to this work. After all, research ethics won’t necessarily permit putting a research participant in an actual traumatic situation for study.
What is pretty clear about sleep is that most people aren’t getting enough and that it has tremendous health benefits for those who do get their needed amounts.