Missing sleep may hurt your memory

July 21, 2014, Michigan State University
A study co-investigated at the Sleep and Learning Lab at Michigan State University found that lack of sleep may hurt memory. Credit: Michigan State University

Lack of sleep, already considered a public health epidemic, can also lead to errors in memory, finds a new study by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found participants deprived of a night's sleep were more likely to flub the details of a simulated burglary they were shown in a series of images.

Distorted memory can have serious consequences in areas such as , where eyewitness misidentifications are thought to be the leading cause of in the United States.

"We found memory distortion is greater after ," said Kimberly Fenn, MSU assistant professor of psychology and co-investigator on the study. "And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls insufficient sleep an epidemic and said it's linked to vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.

The researchers conducted experiments at MSU and UC-Irvine to gauge the effect of insufficient sleep on memory. The results: Participants who were kept awake for 24 hours – and even those who got five or fewer hours of sleep – were more likely to mix up event details than participants who were well rested.

"People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion," Fenn said. "It's not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk."

Fenn's co-investigators include Steven Frenda and Elizabeth Loftus from UC-Irvine.

Explore further: People learn while they sleep, study suggests

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3 comments

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Rustybolts
not rated yet Jul 21, 2014
Love how they get the facts and then toss in a wild guess at the end.

"People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,"

They did not do a long term study but they had to throw this wild guess in since we all know what happens to us when we tired. I'm sorry but this study comes nowhere even close to separating what's temporary and long terms effects.
kelman66
5 / 5 (1) Jul 21, 2014
Love how they get the facts and then toss in a wild guess at the end.

"People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,"

They did not do a long term study but they had to throw this wild guess in since we all know what happens to us when we tired. I'm sorry but this study comes nowhere even close to separating what's temporary and long terms effects.


First time reading a Science article?
Sinister1812
5 / 5 (1) Jul 22, 2014
Well duh!

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