Psychological Effect of an Analogue Traumatic Event Reduced by Sleep Deprivation.
Porcheret K., Holmes EA., Goodwin GM., Foster RG., Wulff K.
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.