Many of us stay up at night remembering a heartbreaking moment. but why? We asked sleep specialist Eus van Someren.
There is evidence for this phenomenon of nocturnal contractions, but with one caveat, as Van Summern explains: The morning is sharper than before. The night before. “
In an ingenious experiment to measure this, Van Somer recorded volunteers singing slowly in karaoke style to songs such as Silent Night. Most importantly, they could not hear their voices in their headphones. Then their recordings were played to them in all their imperfect glory. To determine levels of embarrassment, physiological responses such as flushing were measured and participants completed questionnaires.
What is the connection between sleep and emotional well-being?
One of the facts that guided Van Sumer’s previous project, INSOMNIA, was that people with sleep deprivation were twice as likely to develop depression.
The result is that better understanding of sleep and its disorders can lead to interventions that improve overall mental health. In a long-term follow-up study, Van Somer found that 43 percent of insomniacs develop depression if left untreated, and only 16 percent after intervention.
“Not only is good sleep helpful, but restless sleep can actually be incompatible, meaning that the brain can become even more sensitive to negative emotional states,” says Van Somerne.
Restless sleep is a place where the sleeper cannot be placed in any of the distinct sleep states because he or she returns to the waking state or other sleep states. While different sleep modes activate and deactivate different parts of the brain, one of the most important seems to be rapid eye movement, or REM.
Van Sommern adds: “This state in particular helps the brain to separate memories of facts from their emotional impact.
This is thought to happen because during REM sleep, the locus coeruleus in the brain stops secreting noradrenaline, a stress-related neurotransmitter. Noradrenaline interacts with the brain amygdala, which puts the body on high alert.
Stopping this chemical cascade destroys the connection between memories and emotional responses. As seen in PTSD, restless people lose the advantage of this deadline. “People who sleep well do not get PTSD,” says Van Somerne.
The risk of insomnia seems to be somewhat genetic but increases with early life adversity. Numerous types of genes have been linked to insomnia, which has been linked to depression and anxiety.
What is the science of good sleep?
While we’ve all heard good sleep advice – such as avoiding near-sleep monitors – Van Sommeren’s response may come as a surprise.
We do not have a solution for restless sleep, so using cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, we focus more on limiting harm.
Some research suggests that when experiencing poor sleep, a person’s overall sleep time should be reduced. This helps the body to optimize the sleep process in the optimal 7 or 8 hour window, while also limiting the damage of prolonged restless sleep.
While the importance of sleep for health and well-being is well understood, Van Somer points out how much more there is to learn. “About 95 percent of articles on sleep, memory, and learning affect facts and skills, not emotions or physiological disorders, but they are all related,” he says.
Click here for more information on Van Sumer’s research: Emotional support apps also help prevent depression by reducing insomnia.
So if you find yourself lying in bed waking up and thinking about that embarrassing thing, try to remember that you will feel better about it in the morning.
Conquered by the past: Insomniacs can not get rid of emotional distress from their minds
quotation: Why do embarrassing memories seem to appear at night? (June 22, 2022) Retrieved June 27, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-memories-surface-night.html.
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