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A good night’s sleep has long been recommended to those who have experienced a traumatic event. But a study led by our Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute provides preliminary experimental work suggesting it could actually be the wrong thing to do.

Sleep deprivation could reduce intrusive memories of traumatic scenes
We wanted to see what effect sleep deprivation would have on the development of intrusive memories. After showing participants a film of scenes with traumatic content, they were either kept in a sleep laboratory and deprived of sleep or sent home to have a normal night’s sleep in their own bed.
- Dr Kate Porcheret, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

The research, conducted in the Wellcome Trust-funded Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi) and published in the journal Sleep, involved showing volunteers emotional film clips and seeing how they responded after different amounts of sleep.

Each person then kept a diary in which they recorded any intrusive memories, however fleeting, recording as much information as possible so that the research team could check that the intrusive images were linked to the film.

Read more on the University of Oxford website...