Let’s Not Sleep On It
7 December 2010 –We commonly think of sleep as a healing process that melts away the stresses of the day, preparing us to deal with new challenges. Research has also shown that sleep plays a crucial role in the development of memories.
An important component of anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is the formulation of memories associated with fear.
Therefore, researchers decided to evaluate whether sleep deprivation after exposure to an aversive event might eliminate the associated fear, due to the lack of memory consolidation that would typically occur during sleep.
They evaluated healthy volunteers who were shown video clips of both safe driving and unexpected motor vehicle accidents. Half of the volunteers were then deprived of sleep while the other half received a normal night’s sleep.
Later testing sessions revealed that sleep deprivation eliminated the fear-associated memories through both fear recognition and physiological fear reactions, suggesting a possible therapy for individuals with PTSD or other anxiety disorders.
Dr. Kenichi Kuriyama, corresponding author, explained: “Sleep deprivation after exposure to a traumatic event, whether intentional or not, may help prevent PTSD. Our findings may help to clarify the functional role of acute insomnia and to develop a prophylactic strategy of sleep restriction for prevention of PTSD.”
“It would be nice if the benefits of sleep deprivation upon fear learning could be produced more easily for survivors of extreme stress,” noted John Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Yale University. “New insights into the neurobiology of sleep dependent learning may make it possible for these people to take a medication that disrupts this process while leaving restorative elements of sleep intact.”
Further research is necessary, but these findings indicate that sleep deprivation is a promising avenue for the possible treatment and prevention of PTSD.
Notes to Editors
The article is “Sleep Deprivation Facilitates Extinction of Implicit Fear Generalization and Physiological Response to Fear” by Kenichi Kuriyama, Takahiro Soshi, and Yoshiharu Kim. The authors are affiliated with the Department of Adult Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Tokyo, Japan. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 68, Number 11 (December 1, 2010), published by Elsevier.
The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.
John H. Krystal, M.D. is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and a research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. His disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available here.
Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Chris J. Pfister at email@example.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.
About Biological Psychiatry
This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length reports of novel results, commentaries, case studies of unusual significance, and correspondence judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise reviews and editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.
Biological Psychiatry (www.sobp.org/journal) is ranked 4th out of 117 Psychiatry titles and 13th out of 230 Neurosciences titles in the 2009 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Reuters. The 2009 Impact Factor score for Biological Psychiatry has increased to 8.926.
Elsevier is a global information analytics business that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com
Chris J. Pfister
Strategic Marketing Manager - Elsevier