After you’ve been through something traumatizing, naturally, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted and you just want to lie down. But according to a new study, that’s when your brain sears those negative memories into your brain.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst conducted a study on 100 adults. They showed them several photos, including some disturbing ones, and had them rate their reactions to them. Then they showed the group the same images again 12 hours laterthe only difference was that half of them had slept while the other half stayed awake.
They found that those who had stayed awake weren’t as effected by the images and had a harder time remembering which ones they had already seen. “It’s true that ‘sleeping on it’ is usually a good thing to do,” Rebecca Spencer, a neuroscientist at UMass and co-author of the study, told ABC. “It’s just when something truly traumatic or out of the ordinary happens that you might want to stay awake.”
“This study suggests the biological response we have after trauma might actually be healthy,” she continued. “Perhaps letting people go through a period of insomnia before feeding them sleeping meds is actually beneficial.”