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VOLUME 38, ISSUE 07

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF AN ANALOGUE TRAUMATIC EVENT REDUCED BY SLEEP DEPRIVATION
Psychological Effect of an Analogue Traumatic Event Reduced by Sleep Deprivation

http://dx.doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4802

Kate Porcheret, PhD1; Emily A. Holmes, PhD3,4; Guy M. Goodwin, FMedSci2; Russell G. Foster, PhD1; Katharina Wulff, PhD1

1Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; 3MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK; 4Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden



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Study Objective:

To examine the effect of sleep deprivation compared to sleep, immediately after experimental trauma stimuli on the development of intrusive memories to that trauma stimuli.

Design:

Participants were exposed to a film with traumatic content (trauma film). The immediate response to the trauma film was assessed, followed by either total sleep deprivation (sleep deprived group, N = 20) or sleep as usual (sleep group, N = 22). Twelve hours after the film viewing the initial psychological effect of the trauma film was measured and for the subsequent 6 days intrusive emotional memories related to the trauma film were recorded in daily life.

Setting:

Academic sleep laboratory and participants' home environment.

Participants:

Healthy paid volunteers.

Measurements and results:

On the first day after the trauma film, the psychological effect as assessed by the Impact of Event Scale – Revised was lower in the sleep deprived group compared to the sleep group. In addition, the sleep deprived group reported fewer intrusive emotional memories (mean 2.28, standard deviation [SD] 2.91) compared to the sleep group (mean 3.76, SD 3.35). Because habitual sleep/circadian patterns, psychological health, and immediate effect of the trauma film were similar at baseline for participants of both groups, the results cannot be accounted for by pre-existing inequalities between groups.

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest that sleep deprivation on one night, rather than sleeping, reduces emotional effect and intrusive memories following exposure to experimental trauma.

Citation:

Porcheret K, Holmes EA, Goodwin GM, Foster RG, Wulff K. Psychological effect of an analogue traumatic event reduced by sleep deprivation. SLEEP 2015;38(7):1017–1025.

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