Research suggests that sleep might be responsible for intensifying the emotional response to a troubling event.
Ever wake up still disturbed -- and haunted -- by the memory of a particularly upsetting image or incident?
A recent study might have an explanation for you.
Research over the past few years has revealed that sleep is intimately tied to memory and might actually be necessary for a large part of its consolidation. Various studies, like the one conducted by Jan Born and Ines Wilhelm, argue that sleep is responsible for the key transition from "newly coded memory representations" to long-term memory storage. As Born and Wilhelm put it, sleep propels this "active system consolidation," which includes the reactivation of memories for processing and eventually preservation.
Researchers are continuing to debate exactly how much each different stage of sleep, such as slow wave (SWS) or rapid eye movement (REM), contributes to consolidation.
Still, a subsequent study published in The Journal of Neuroscience by Rebecca Spencer and her team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst takes this connection between sleep and memory a step further -- and offers some valuable conclusions in the process.