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Staying Awake After Stressful Event Reduces Risk of Disorder

Update Date: Jul 19, 2012 09:32 AM EDT

A latest research claims that sleep deprivation after a stressful event is good for the mental well-being.

According to the research by a team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Tel Aviv University, staying awake for around 6 hours after an exposure to a significantly stressful event, actually reduces the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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

Statistics reveal that around 20 percent people who face traumatic stress in life such as a car accident or a terrorist attack cannot carry on with a normal life after the incidence. These people cannot get over the memories of the event for years together which basically is the cause for disfunctionality in the person's daily life. 

"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 Cohen, according to a news release. "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." 

For the current study, researchers conducted the experiment on rats. They found that those rats that underwent sleep deprivation after exposure to trauma (predator scent stress exposure), later did not exhibit behavior indicating memory of the event. However, rats which were allowed to sleep after stress exposure, did remember and displayed 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," said Cohen. "Our research method for this study is, we believe, a breakthrough in biomedical research." 

A study on humans is being planned.

The new study was funded by Israel Academy of Science and Humanities grant and the Israel Ministry of Health and was published in the international scientific journal, Neuropsychopharmacolog

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