Sleep deprivation has become a public health crisis, according to a number of scientists. Sleep has a major impact on health, and good sleep is critical for memory consolidation and peak cognitive functioning.
For people with insomnia, sleep deprivation is all the more alarming because sleep deprivation is not an option. Insomnia is characterized by chronic difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and it is a common sleep disorder.
So, a new study has shown that insomnia also reinforces disturbing and embarrassing memories, making it difficult to leave your past negative life experiences behind.
Researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Neurobiology conducted a study. The results show that these embarrassing memories are not such a problem if you don't have insomnia.
The researchers asked study participants to relive their most infamous past experience, during which magnetic resonance imaging was used to scan brain activity.
Participants who reported healthy sleep patterns and adequate sleep were able to recall the experience without becoming upset as the brain neutralized the memory.
For the insomniacs, re-experiencing the experience was disturbing and just as excruciating as if the event had just happened.
Sleep is necessary to consolidate and strengthen memories, but it also helps release the emotional charge associated with memory. Getting enough sleep can help relieve the emotional stress associated with painful or embarrassing experiences.
In this study, the results show that insomnia not only helps exacerbate emotional distress associated with memory, but also causes an inability to neutralize bad memories during sleep.
"Brain research now shows that only well-sleeping people benefit from sleep when it comes to reducing emotional stress. This process doesn't work very well for people with insomnia. In fact, their restless nights can even make them feel worse.""
According to the researchers, the roots of insomnia may lie in brain circuits that regulate emotions and cause people to be haunted by disturbing past events.