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Sleep and Memory: How They Work Together

Dr. Dimitriu was published in Psychology Today on the topic of Sleep and Memory: How They Work Together.

Medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas once wrote that “sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep.” Now, scientists are learning he was not far from the truth. 

A study published in July 2019 in the journal Current Biology indicates a poor night’s sleep—specifically, restless rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep—negatively impacts brain function, including the work of amygdalae. These are almond-sized clusters of nuclei located deep within the brain’s temporal lobes and responsible for the consolidation of memories for long-term learning, as well as the processing and storage of memories associated with events that elicit strong emotions like sorrow, embarrassment, fear, and anxiety.  Upon awakening, study volunteers who experienced disrupted REM sleep remained reactive to emotional events from the previous day while well-rested individuals labeled prior-day events as being of lesser emotional significance than they originally thought, according to the researchers.

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