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Sleep enhances exposure therapy


Kleim, Birgit; Wilhelm, F H; Temp, L; Margraf, J; Wiederhold, B K; Rasch, Björn (2014). Sleep enhances exposure therapy. Psychological Medicine, 44(07):1511-1519.

Abstract

Background: Sleep benefits memory consolidation. Here, we tested the beneficial effect of sleep on memory consolidation following exposure psychotherapy of phobic anxiety.
Method: A total of 40 individuals afflicted with spider phobia according to DSM-IV underwent a one-session virtual reality exposure treatment and either slept for 90 min or stayed awake afterwards.
Results: Sleep following exposure therapy compared with wakefulness led to better reductions in self-reported fear (p = 0.045, d = 0.47) and catastrophic spider-related cognitions (p = 0.026, d = 0.53) during approaching a live spider, both tested after 1 week. Both reductions were associated with greater percentages of stage 2 sleep.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that sleep following successful psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, improves therapeutic effectiveness, possibly by strengthening new non-fearful memory traces established during therapy. These findings offer an important non-invasive alternative to recent attempts to facilitate therapeutic memory extinction and consolidation processes with pharmacological or behavioral interventions.

Abstract

Background: Sleep benefits memory consolidation. Here, we tested the beneficial effect of sleep on memory consolidation following exposure psychotherapy of phobic anxiety.
Method: A total of 40 individuals afflicted with spider phobia according to DSM-IV underwent a one-session virtual reality exposure treatment and either slept for 90 min or stayed awake afterwards.
Results: Sleep following exposure therapy compared with wakefulness led to better reductions in self-reported fear (p = 0.045, d = 0.47) and catastrophic spider-related cognitions (p = 0.026, d = 0.53) during approaching a live spider, both tested after 1 week. Both reductions were associated with greater percentages of stage 2 sleep.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that sleep following successful psychotherapy, such as exposure therapy, improves therapeutic effectiveness, possibly by strengthening new non-fearful memory traces established during therapy. These findings offer an important non-invasive alternative to recent attempts to facilitate therapeutic memory extinction and consolidation processes with pharmacological or behavioral interventions.

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19 citations in Web of Science®
25 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:31 Jan 2014 09:42
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:31
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0033-2917
Additional Information:Copyright: Cambridge University Press.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291713001748
PubMed ID:23842278

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