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Losing sleep leaves you vulnerable to 'false memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Sleep deprivation isn't good for any part of your body, but a new study says it can take a really devastating toll on your memory – finding loss of sleep can leave people with false or inaccurate memories.

To get the results researchers at Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine attempted to suggest fake memories to sleep deprived subjects, in order to see how accurate their recollection was.

Study lead Stephen Frenda says he wanted to look specifically at how sleep loss affects people's recollection of detailed events.

"The studies that do exist look mostly at sleep deprived people's ability to accurately remember lists of words-not real people, places and events," he told the Association of Psychological Science

The experiment's 104 participants were asked to look at photos of a crime - half saw them on the night before the experiment, half on the next morning. Half of each group got a good night's sleep, while the other half was kept wide awake; then, each subject read a story about the pictures laced with misinformation, and was quizzed on what they remembered from the photos.

Researchers found the participants who were sleep deprived throughout the whole experiment - seeing the photos and hearing the false narrative - were the most likely to misremember details or recall false information.

The study concludes lack of sleep prevented some participants from properly committing the photos to memory. "Sleep deprivation may have impaired encoding of the original event, thus making memory more vulnerable to intrusions from misleading post event information."

While the study mostly looked at how total sleep deprivation harms memory, co-author Kimberly Fenn notes any loss of sleep can affect how well you remember things.

Fenn told Michigan State University "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. It's not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk."

Previous sleep deprivation studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can affect both your long-term and short-term memory, hunger levels, and can result in a loss of brain cells.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get seven to eight hours of sleep a day, while teens and younger children need nine or more.

The subject still needs further investigation, but researchers say this study could impact the reliability of the eyewitness accounts used to solve crimes -- but try not to lose any sleep over that.

Join the discussion

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juanmpuertas July 27 2014 at 6:21 PM

FROM NOW ON ... REPUKES GO GET BETTER SLEEP, so you will remember who GW. and friends are and the private Iraq war and who got richer out if it.

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1 reply
charpist5 juanmpuertas July 27 2014 at 9:52 PM

Have you always been a sheep or are you just brainwashed due to sleep deprivation?

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crowland503 July 27 2014 at 5:30 PM

With the hundred of millions of Americans losing sleep because of the phony, deadbeat POTUS creating chaos to the economy, health care, country, and world, no wonder people are unable to get a good night sleep!

Your lesson, Students, is to find as many poor leftist liberals who have false memories of Obama as being the Savior and get them sleep therapy in order to wake-up to reality!

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3 replies
Alan Wallace July 27 2014 at 7:59 PM

This is utter nonsense!
I've battled Insomnia my entire life and there has been no detrimental impact to my memory or...wait... what were we talking about?

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boardsrbetter July 27 2014 at 4:08 PM

Ok, so this was a dumb waste of money basically. It doesnt even affect tangible memory.

Careful: Sleep 8 hours, or you might forget a word on a list! D:

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1 reply
Michele boardsrbetter July 28 2014 at 3:03 AM

It is somewhat a fact, that lack of sleep does age the brain.

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userc8314 July 27 2014 at 6:02 PM

I hope employers/schools are held behind huge liabilities if such is true...they would be cause behind such with making people work long hours and asking to work closing then opening shift or risk termination.

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Joy July 28 2014 at 4:55 AM

Now make sure you find a way to blame this one on Obama

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raptureus210 July 28 2014 at 8:02 AM

Ok.. people are suffering from loss of sleep which could memory loss, plus we pass laws to smoke pot, so we can read more bad news how some people are FORGETTING their kids in the back seat of a car when it's 95 degress outside. This sounds like this nation is on the right track.

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Gil July 27 2014 at 10:27 PM

No wonder my girlfriend has good memory. She's always sleeping around.

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Gil July 27 2014 at 9:48 PM

I let my computer get lot of rest.

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charpist5 July 27 2014 at 9:51 PM

Good grief, did you actually spend MONEY on this study? Wow, huge surprise. Stay up all night and have retention problems. That is SO surprising.

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