We all know that a good night's sleep is important in maintaining good health. New research, however, hints that sleep deprivation within six hours after a traumatic event may actually be therapeutic in preventing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Researchers found that rats that were not allowed to sleep after the stress exposure did not exhibit behavior indicating memory of the stressful event, while the control group of rats that were allowed to sleep after the stressful event appeared to remember past trauma and exhibited post trauma-like behavior in elevated plus-maze and acoustic startle response tests.
"Post-exposure SD effectively ameliorated long-term, stress-induced, PTSD-like behavioral disruptions, reduced trauma reminder freezing responses, and decreased hippocampal expression of GR compared with exposed-untreated controls," researchers wrote in the study.
Researchers said that that intentionally preventing sleep in the early aftermath of stress exposure may be effective in reducing traumatic stress because sleep deprivation may play a role in disrupting the consolidation of stressful fear-inducing memories by decreasing activity in the hippocampus, an essential area of the brain responsible for memory.
The investigators are already planning a similar study on humans to further understand the relationship between sleep deprivation and PTSD.