Sleep on That!

Woman resting in bed with her eyes opened, looking at the camera

Does a bad Tuesday night’s sleep mean an even worse Wednesday?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

After a night of tossing and turning, random bad thoughts or memories seem to come out of nowhere to ruin the day! Is there a connection?

Marcus Harrington from the University of York believes there is! He showed sixty volunteers photos of scenery and faces and asked them to rank how happy the images appeared. Then they either slept for eight hours or pulled an all-nighter. Next day, they were shown new pictures and asked which images these pictures reminded them of.

Those who slept for eight hours thought of happier images. Sleep-deprived participants experienced the opposite; they thought of NEGATIVE images! The researchers say that lack of sleep may disrupt memory control and bring negative memories to mind!

Many psychiatric conditions, including PTSD and depression, create sleep problems. Harrington’s findings suggest that a lack of sleep might make these conditions WORSE!

So when it comes to peace of mind, why don’t we all just. . . sleep on it!

Reference: Harrington, M. O., Ashton, J. E., Sankarasubramanian, S., Anderson, M. C., & Cairney, S. A. (2020). Losing Control: Sleep Deprivation Impairs the Suppression of Unwanted Thoughts. Clinical Psychological Science, 9(1), 97–113.