Do you have a time in your life that is so painful; you wish you could forget it altogether? Perhaps a death of a loved one
, a time away at war, or even a rape?
Or, maybe that holiday office party where you got just a little too drunk?
Well, it looks like there may be some help available to you at last . . . and it doesn’t even cost a thing. Time and Sleep
Time really can heal all wounds, apparently. Well, time and sleep. A new paper that was recently published in the online scientific journal Current Biology
describes how sleep can help people overcome difficult times. The research, which was organized and led by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, found that a few processes that occur during sleep help us recover from stressful events in our lives. Dream, Dream, Dream
Rapid eye movement sleep, better known as REM sleep, is the phase of sleep in which you dream. During REM sleep, your stress chemistry completely shuts down in order to relax you, and recent emotional experiences are brought to the forefront of the brain.
What would normally be painful memories while you are awake, however, are processed by the brain in a way that takes the edge off; allowing the memories to surface without stressing you out. This could explain why war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
, have an extremely difficult time recovering from stressful experiences, and continuously suffer reoccurring nightmares. Their sleep might not be effective enough to render those traumatic experiences less distressful; so when a flashback is triggered, they might relive the entire emotional experience once again.Details of the Study
Researchers gathered 35 healthy young adults to participate in their study. For the experiments, the test subjects were split into two groups. These two groups both viewed the same 150 emotional images two times a day, 12 hours apart, and each viewing was followed up with an MRI scanner that was used to measure their individual brain activity. The difference between the two groups, however, was that half of the participants viewed the images in the morning and again in the evening, which meant that they would stay awake between both viewings. The second half of the group viewed the images in the evening, had a full night of sleep, and then viewed the second set of images in the morning.
The results found that those who had a full night's rest in between the images had a significantly reduced emotional reaction to the pictures - compared to the participants who did not sleep between viewings. The MRI scans furthered these results by showing a huge reduction in activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that processes emotions. This suggests that the full night of sleep caused the brain to become more relaxed, allowing the second group of viewers to better handle the emotional images.
Hope for the Future
The report comes at a time where many other sleep discoveries
are being made, and more light is being shed on the mysteries of sleep. Surprisingly, even though humans spend one-third of their lives sleeping, there is no real scientific consensus
on the exact function of sleep, though reports such as these are certainly helping to pave the way for grand discoveries.