Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Don't go to bed angry...

Several studies have shown that sleep enhances emotional memories. Baran et al. show that maybe its better let anger keep you awake at night than to sleep on it. Sleep consolidates the negative emotional memory. Having trouble sleeping after an unsettling experience may be the brain's way of trying to keep the memory or emotion from being stored. The abstract:
Sleep enhances memories, particularly emotional memories. As such, it has been suggested that sleep deprivation may reduce posttraumatic stress disorder. This presumes that emotional memory consolidation is paralleled by a reduction in emotional reactivity, an association that has not yet been examined. In the present experiment, we used an incidental memory task in humans and obtained valence and arousal ratings during two sessions separated either by 12 h of daytime wake or 12 h including overnight sleep. Recognition accuracy was greater following sleep relative to wake for both negative and neutral pictures. While emotional reactivity to negative pictures was greatly reduced over wake, the negative emotional response was relatively preserved over sleep. Moreover, protection of emotional reactivity was associated with greater time in REM sleep. Recognition accuracy, however, was not associated with REM. Thus, we provide the first evidence that sleep enhances emotional memory while preserving emotional reactivity.

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