According to a recent study published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, small bursts of brain activity called sleep spindles during non-rapid eye movement-2 (NREM2) sleep may help regulate anxiety in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The study found that exposure to violent images increased spindle frequency in those with greater PTSD symptoms and reduced anxiety post-nap.
The researchers suggest that interventions that trigger spindles associated with NREM2 sleep, such as prescription drugs or electrical brain stimulation, may benefit patients with stress and anxiety disorders. Future implications: the findings prompt detailed research on the role of spindles in the consolidation and the effects of replaying intrusive and violent memories, many weeks post-trauma exposure.
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