Individuals who have suffered a trauma could potentially recover from the experience with sufficient sleep in their high gloss beds, according to new research. The findings are hoped to shed light on ways to help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and reveal a link between dreams and memory.
In a study by the University of California, published in the journal Current Biology, 35 volunteers were shown emotional images and their brains scanned several hours later to analyse their brain activity. Participants who were allowed to sleep in between these two events were found to exhibit less activity in the areas of the brain used for emotion, and more activity in the regions used for rational thought.
The findings suggest the human brain deals with unpleasant or traumatic events by reducing its excretion of norepinephrine - a chemical associated with stress - during the REM sleep cycle - evidence of which was uncovered in the study.
Dr Matthew Walker, lead author of the study, said: "By reprocessing previous emotional experiences in this neurochemically safe environment of low norepinephrine during REM sleep, we wake up the next day, and those experiences have been softened in their emotional strength."