Sleep researchers from University of California campuses in Riverside and San Diego have found a link between sleep mechanism and emotional memory. The study — “Pharmacologically Increasing Sleep Spindles Enhances Recognition for Negative and High-arousal Memories” — appears in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience and talks about how prescription sleep aid like zolpidem (Ambien) makes an individual response to negative memories.
Mednick and UC San Diego psychologists Erik J. Kaestner and John T. Wixted found out that sleep spindles — bursts of brain activity are crucial to emotional memory.
“I was surprised by the specificity of the results, that the emotional memory improvement was specifically for the negative and high-arousal memories, and the ramifications of these results for people with anxiety disorders and PTSD,” Mednick said.
“These are people who already have heightened memory for negative and high-arousal memories. Sleep drugs might be improving their memories for things they don’t want to remember.”
You can read more about this fascinating research here.