By TRACI PEDERSEN
Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. June 15, 2013
Researchers have identified the sleep mechanism that enables the brain to strengthen emotional memories.
They also found that a commonly prescribed sleep aid heightens the brain’s remembrance of and response to negative memories.
Dr. Sara Mednick from the University of Riverside and her colleagues found that a sleep condition known as sleep spindles — bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep — are vital for emotional memory.
In earlier research, Mednick demonstrated the vital role that sleep spindles play in transferring memories from short-term to long-term in the hippocampus.
Currently, the U.S. Air Force uses zolpidem as one of the prescribed “no-go pills” to help flight crews calm down after using stimulants to stay awake during long missions, the researchers noted in the study.Also found
“In light of the present results, it would be worthwhile to investigate whether the administration of benzodiazepine-like drugs may be increasing the retention of highly arousing and negative memories, which would have a countertherapeutic effect,” they wrote. “Further research on the relationship between hypnotics and emotional mood disorders would seem to be in order.”
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Ambien Side Effects
Other side effects including tolerance to the pharmacologic effects of zolpidem (the active ingredient contained in Ambien) have been reported rarely. Withdrawal symptoms after either abrupt cessation or fast tapering may occur. Withdrawal symptoms may include agitation, restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, tremor, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and sweating.