When her daughter was preschool, Rebecca Spencer experienced something many parents and caregivers are familiar with: the power of & # 39; nap.
Without a nap, her daughter was dizzy, grumpy, or both simultaneously.
Spencer, who specializes in sleep neuroscientist at the University & # 39; Massachusetts Amherst, in the United States, wanted to investigate what lies behind this anecdotal experience.
"Most people realize that a child is emotionally liberalized without a nap," he explains. "This led us to ask ourselves a question:" naps really help process emotions? ' "
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Scientific research has already shown that, b & # 39; In general, sleep helps us make sense of & # 39; emotions. In fact, plays a major role in the encoding of information extracted from the experiences of the day, so it is essential that the memories are preserved.
And the emotional memories are unique because of the way to activate the amygdala body: the emotional center of the brain.
"The activation of the amygdala body is what allows you remember the day of your wedding and the funeral of your parents more than any other working day," says Spencer.
The amygdala body write these memories as significant, to be processed during sleep longer and be repeated more than other trivial memories.
The result is emotionally important memories are easier to recover in the future.
But by having influence on how memories are processed, the dream can & # 39; also alter the power to.
"The sleep is particularly effective when it comes to transform the emotional memory", says Elaina Bolinger, emotion and sleep specialist at the University of & # 39; Tuebingen, Germany.
In a recent study, Bolinger and his colleagues have proved negative and neutral images to children between 8 and 11 years. Children showed their emotional response chosen by simple drawings & # 39; people.
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Later, some children are born and others were not. The researchers checked the physiology of their brain through electrodes from the next room.
The next morning, the children saw the same image, as well as some new ones. And compared with children who remained awake, children sleptu best checked their emotional responses.
This research suggests that sleep helps crystallises emotional information and control how it makes us feel. And this effect happen quickly.
"Much of the current research indicates that one night & # 39; sleep is already useful," says Bolinger. "It is useful for processing & # 39; memories, and it is also important for emotional regulation b & # 39; in general."
But not all a dream is the same.
Types & # 39; sleep
The sleep & # 39; & # 39 movement; mild eye (REM) is associated with & # 39; emotional memories, and have more REM sleep brings people better assess the intentions of & # 39; others and remember emotional stories.
One theory indicates a lack of & # 39; hormone & # 39; noradrenaline stress during REM sleep. Released temporarily from this hormone, the brain can & # 39; processes memories without tension.
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Simon Durrant, chief of the Laboratory & # 39; Sleep and Cognition at the University & # 39; Lincoln, England, highlights another aspect.
The prefrontal cortex is the most developed part of the brain: is where Durrant says, "the human impulse to keep calm and not react immediately to things".
While candles, this is the part that keeps the amygdala body under control and, therefore, the emotions. During sleep, that connection is reduced.
"F & # 39; a certain sense, during REM sleep emotion is rampant."
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But Spencer also believes that non-REM sleep plays an important role. The sleep of slow wave (SWS) is the first phase of & # 39; sleep to consolidate memories, and is especially effective when processing neutral memories.
Researching & # 39; Spencer suggests that the amount of & # 39; SWS activity during sleep affects how emotional memories are transformed.
Naps consisting mainly of non-REM sleep. And a recent article co-written by Spencer appears to be the first to show that naps, not just sleep at night, contributing to the processing of emotional memory in children.
Without napping, children showed bias towards emozzjonalità. With a nap, they responded with & # 39; similarly to neutral stimuli and emotional stimuli.
In short, make sure that "if they do not, the children become hypersensitive to emotional stimuli", because it kkonsolidawx emotional baggage & # 39; that day.
Spencer believes that naps also contribute to emotional processing in adults, although not equally. The adult hippocampus has more mature and, therefore, more ability to preserve memories. Not sleeping with iweġġagħhomx so.
However, this is only to a point. Researching & # 39; Spencer related to aging suggests that "we need to consolidate more memories & # 39; often as we get older".
Interestingly, older adults show a bias towards positive memories, while young adults tend to negative ones.
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It can & # 39; is because children and adolescents focus on negative experiences because they contain key information to be obtained: from fire hazards to risks & # 39; acceptance & # 39; foreign beverage.
But at the end of life, people prioritize positive. They also have less REM sleep, type & # 39; & # 39 x sleep, likely saving negative memories, especially in & # 39; & # 39 by people, depression.
The researchers & # 39; sleep is also analyzing the potential & # 39; certain aspects of & # 39; to treat sleep disorder & # 39; post-traumatic stress (PTSD).
One study suggests that sleep within 24 hours of a traumatic experience make those less distressing memories in the & # 39; next few days. For people who have anxiety, the therapy & # 39; sleep you & # 39; remember them to eliminate their fear & # 39;.
On the contrary, the therapy & # 39; wakefulness – in which people are deliberately deprived of sleep – is spreading as a method to treat depression.
Lack & # 39; & # 39 sleep in, some cases can & # 39; A protective effect. Spencer noted that, after trauma, "the natural biological response in & # 39; those conditions is to have non & # 39; sleep."
So, sometimes can & # 39; be good to failure & # 39; REM sleep undermine the ability of the brain to consolidate emotional memories.
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"There is evidence that people have longer REM sleep tend to be more depressed," says Durrant. The expert believes that this is because a subset of & # 39; & # 39 by people, depression again negative consolidate memories during REM sleep.
"Do not think that I decide that this issue has been resolved," says & # 39; all potential clinical applications & # 39; a & # 39; sleep therapy and & # 39; wakefulness.
But what is clear is that certain types & # 39; & # 39 making; decisions improve after sleep, partly because of the way sleep regulate everything changing feelings.
Bolinger jispjegah b & # 39; clearly: b & # 39; generally, "sleep help you feel better".
Finally, the best recipe for broken heart or sick mind can & # 39; be dew.
Read the original story in English on the BBC Future.