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Sleep deprivation may help treat anxiety disorders

Sleep deprivation may be therapeutic for some people with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

Sleep deprivation may help treat anxiety disorders

Sleep deprivation may be therapeutic for some people with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders.

Sleep is known as a healing process that melts away the stresses of the day, preparing us to deal with new challenges. Previous research has shown that sleep plays a crucial role in the consolidation of memories, and that the development of fear-related memories is an important part of anxiety disorders such as PTSD.

In this study, researchers in America investigated what happened when they deprived people of sleep after they had seen disturbing images. Healthy volunteers were shown video clips of both safe driving and traffic crashes. Half of the participants were then deprived of sleep while the others got a normal night's sleep.

Follow-up assessments showed that sleep deprivation eliminated the fear-associated memories. Sleep deprivation after exposure to a traumatic event, whether intentional or not, may help prevent PTSD.

The findings may help clarify the functional role of acute insomnia and to develop a prophylactic strategy of sleep restriction for prevention of PTSD. Further research is necessary, but these findings indicate that sleep deprivation is a promising avenue for the possible treatment and prevention of PTSD.
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