Sleep deprivation is a serious problem– and not just for you. In fact, not getting enough sleep could be a paramount injustice to innocent people all around you.
At least that’s what a recent study out of the University of California, Irvine claims, after it concluded that sleep deprivation could giving way to false memories. This scary phenomenon is characterized by people internalizing wrong information regarding something that took place, before offering incorrect details about it later.
In one of the study’s experiments, participants were asked to keep their own sleep diary for a full week. In it, they were supposed to record information like length of sleep or the amount of times they woke up that night. Once the week concluded, the researchers showed these participants in a controlled lab setting two sets of photographs. Both depicted a crime in action, with one showing a man stealing a woman’s wallet while the other was depicted breaking into a car.
After looking at the two pictures, study subjects read stories about the photo slideshow with numerous incorrect details. Next, researchers examined participants to figure out how many wrong details they incorporated into their memory from the written narratives of the photos.
Subjects who slept for no more than five hours each night during that week were significantly more likely to integrate the bad information into their recounts of the photo slideshow. While the poor-sleeping group did this a sizable 18 percent of the time, the good-sleeping group only used misinformation in their recollections 13 percent of the time.
“The misinformation task is meant to parallel a very common situation in the real world,” says Steven Frenda, human memory specialist at the department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine. “The three stages of the misinformation procedure (encoding, misinformation, test) were designed to model this real-world process.”
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