A Positive Use for Sleep Deprivation?

A new study indicates there may be a positive psychological benefit to sleep deprivation.  The research, conducted at Yale University, indicates that staying awake may be therapeutic for some people with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

It’s been long known (and documented in multiple articles here at SleepBetter.org, including this one) that sleep plays a role in categorizing and cementing memories.  Researchers at Yale wanted to find out what happened when they deprived people of sleep after they had seen disturbing images.

Healthy volunteers in the study were shown video clips of both safe driving and traffic crashes. Half of the participants were then deprived of sleep while the others got a normal night’s sleep.  Follow-up assessments showed that sleep deprivation eliminated the fear-associated memories.

The study appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Source: Businessweek/HealthDay