Sleep deprivation may increase likelihood of false memories

Posted on September 23, 2014

In a study conducted by psychological scientist Steven J. Frenda of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues, sleep-deprived people who viewed photographs of a crime being committed and then read false information about the photos were more likely to report remembering the false details in the photos than were those who got a full night’s sleep.

A preliminary study conducted by Frenda and colleagues suggested that getting 5 hours of sleep or less was associated with the formation of false memories. In a follow-up experiment, subjects were shown photographs of a crime being committed and then read false information about the photos. They were then made to take a memory test on the photos either after sleeping or after pulling an all-nighter. Results revealed that those who took the test after staying up all night (i.e. sleep-deprived) were more susceptible to false memories and were also more likely to report false details, compared to those who slept before taking the memory test.

Recent studies are suggesting that people are getting fewer hours of sleep on average, and chronic sleep deprivation is on the rise. The researchers believe that these findings have implications for the reliability of eyewitnesses who may have experienced long periods of restricted or deprived sleep.

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Category(s):Sleep Disorders

Source material from Association for Psychological Science

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