By: April Carson
To explore the connection between sleep and memorizing fear-based memories, scientists from Ural Federal University (UrFU) in Russia and the University of Tübingen (Germany) conducted studies. They discovered that a brief siesta could improve memory for upsetting or worrying experiences but found that identical results were also gained after an interval of wakefulness. This groundbreaking research indicates how valuable sleep is to our capacity to recall emotionally charged situations effectively.
Subsequent studies have further shown that resting in the daytime is particularly beneficial for preserving memories of fear and distress. The findings of these scientific investigations indicate that it could be wise to incorporate sleep into our daily routines if we want to effectively remember upsetting experiences.
This is an invaluable tool to help us manage our emotional health. Of course, it's important to find a balance between rest and other activities that contribute to our well-being, such as exercise and socialization. With this newfound understanding of the brain's response to these traumas, we can now develop more effective treatments and interventions for helping those affected.
The research found that when individuals are exposed to a traumatic experience, their memories of the event become significantly stronger if they have been resting in the daytime prior to recalling it. This is because during sleep, the brain consolidates and strengthens our new memories.
Sleep plays a crucial role in the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage, known as memory consolidation. Various studies have concluded that sleeping after learning proves more advantageous than passively being awake. Sleep is a powerful phenomenon that reactivates meaningful memories, and can even affect our dreams. Remarkably, its beneficial effects persist for many years after - offering us long-term advantages we may be unaware of.
However, it's not only new memories that sleep helps to solidify. Instead, it appears that resting in the daytime heightens memories of panic and emotional distress. During sleep, negative experiences are reactivated - allowing us to create more vivid and emotionally charged mental images of them.
To date, there are no studies that have assessed the effect of sleep on fear memory. Consequently, this study sought to investigate how sleeping or being awake alters one's recollection of a fearful situation.
According to Yuri Pavlov, co-author of the article and researcher at the laboratory of Neurotechnology of UrFU as well as Institute Medical Psychology & Behavioral Neurobiology located in Tübingen, "Comprehending how sleep impacts individuals under distressing circumstances is critical for inventing effective ways to manage disaster survivors, people suffering from panic attacks or PTSD."
He further adds, "If we uncover that the influence of sleep on fear memories is similar to other kinds of memory, such as episodic (memories related with life events), then it would be more helpful for victims not to rest after facing trauma."
The study employed a model of fear-conditioning in mice where they were shown two distinct environments, one with a light cue related to an electric shock and the other without. At first, the scientists observed that both groups demonstrated equivalent levels of fear-based response when exposed to each environment; however, those that had been awake during the day had a much stronger response to the environment with the light cue after being re-exposed.
To begin the experiment, participants underwent a fear conditioning paradigm both before and after sleeping. To condition them to respond with trepidation towards certain stimuli; they first heard a neutral tone which was always followed by an unpleasant noise. Conversely, another tone was never coupled with this noise according to what the scientist revealed. This process was repeated multiple times to ensure the participants could respond appropriately towards the stimuli.
Afterwards, these same participants were re-exposed to the environments that they had become conditioned to be fearful of while undergoing another session of fear conditioning the day after.
Through repeated associations, we discovered that a neutral stimulus could illicit an equivalent emotional response on its own. Interestingly, people usually found the loud sound to be more unpleasant than electric shocks which are commonly used in fear research.
The results of the experiment indicate that resting in the daytime can heighten memories of panic and emotional distress.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
How To Get Trauma Out of Our Mind/Body/Energy w Lis Hoekstra & Billy Carson
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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