Sleeping Away Fear

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,282
    Researchers at Northwestern University find that fears and phobias may be treated by exposure therapy during sleep.

     A study from Northwestern University suggests that fear memory can be reduced during sleep.  Researchers successfully lowered levels of fear in people by using certain odors to trigger and re-channel frightening memories into harmless ones during sleep.  They say that this potentially offers a way to enhance daytime treatments of phobia with a nighttime component. This is the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep and researchers say this has important implications for exposure therapy, which is used to treat phobias, by exposing people gradually to the feared object or situation until the fear is extinguished.