Sleep deprivation may reduce risk of PTSD, according to new research

July 18, 2012

Sleep deprivation in the first few hours after exposure to a significantly stressful threat actually reduces the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a study by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Tel Aviv University.

The new study was published in the international scientific journal, Neuropsychopharmacology. It revealed in a series of experiments that sleep deprivation of approximately six hours immediately after exposure to a traumatic event reduces the development of post trauma-like . As a result, sleep deprivation the first hours after stress exposure might represent a simple, yet effective, intervention for PTSD.

The research was conducted by Prof. Hagit Cohen, director of the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. Joseph Zohar of Tel Aviv University.

Approximately 20 percent of people exposed to a severe traumatic event, such as a car or work accident, terrorist attack or war, cannot normally carry on their lives. These people retain the memory of the event for many years. It causes considerable difficulties in the person's functioning in daily life and, in extreme cases, may render the individual completely dysfunctional.

"Often those close to someone exposed to a traumatic event, including medical teams, seek to relieve the distress and assume that it would be best if they could rest and "sleep on it," says Prof. Cohen. "Since memory is a significant component in the development of post-traumatic symptoms, we decided to examine the various effects of sleep deprivation immediately after exposure to trauma."

In the experiments, rats that underwent after exposure to trauma (predator scent stress exposure), later did not exhibit behavior indicating memory of the event, while a of rats that was allowed to sleep after the stress exposure did remember, as shown by their post trauma-like behavior.

"As is the case for human populations exposed to severe stress, 15 to 20 percent of the animals develop long-term disruptions in their behavior," says Cohen. "Our research method for this study is, we believe, a breakthrough in biomedical research."

A pilot study in humans is currently being planned. The studies were funded by a Israel Academy of Science and Humanities grant and the Israel Ministry of Health.

Explore further: A shot of cortisone stops traumatic stress

Related Stories

A shot of cortisone stops traumatic stress

October 4, 2011

As soldiers return home from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, America must cope with the toll that war takes on mental health. But the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is becoming increasingly expensive, and ...

Recommended for you

Oxytocin enhances spirituality, new study says

September 21, 2016

Oxytocin has been dubbed the "love hormone" for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

Study reveals a biological link between stress and obesity

September 21, 2016

Metabolic and anxiety-related disorders both pose a significant healthcare burden, and are in the spotlight of contemporary research and therapeutic efforts. Although intuitively we assume that these two phenomena overlap, ...

Men with anxiety are more likely to die of cancer, study says

September 20, 2016

Men over 40 who are plagued with the omnipresent of generalized anxiety disorder are more than twice as likely to die of cancer than are men who do not have the mental affliction, new research finds. But for women who suffer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.