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Don’t Doze: Why You May Do Better Staying Awake after a Traumatic Event

11 Mar

The March issue of Imaginews, the beautiful magazine/journal of Imagery International is now out and available at their website.  Editor Bev Hollander can always be counted on to do a terrific job. Check it out.

This month’s theme is on dealing with suffering, and it can be found here.

I also want you to know about a new textbook, hot off the Routledge presses, by Ann Goelitz and Abigail Stewart-Kohn, called, From Trauma to Healing: A Social Worker’s Guide to Working with Survivors.  

It offers a wealth of critical information and support for those who work with trauma survivors or those who’ve witnessed trauma. There’s some excellent info on secondary trauma and the importance of self-care, and some great basic tips on what to look for when assessing a client, what to say in a session, and how and when to say it – really important stuff that can get overlooked in our eagerness to learn new techniques.

You can click on this link to order it.  Enter HYJ82 for the 20% discount – otherwise those textbooks can be pretty pricey.  

A recent article in Scientific American describes some interesting research with rodents, suggesting that falling asleep immediately after a traumatic event could make PTS symptoms worse.  Of course, mice aren’t exactly people, but still… this is intriguing.

Tori Rodriguez writes that, “It may be tempting to seek solace in slumber after a traumatic event, but a study from the October 2012 issue of Neuropsychopharmacology found that sleeping too soon after trauma might lead to increased post-traumatic stress symptoms."

Two groups of rodents were exposed to a predator's scent, a traumatic event for a mouse. For six hours afterward, one group was prevented from sleeping, whereas a control group was not. The sleep-deprived mice displayed fewer physiological markers of stress than the control group and less PTS-like behavior, such as freezing and a heightened startle response.

Researchers believe that sleep deprivation disrupts the consolidation of trauma memories—a hypothesis that goes along with the current understanding of the role of sleep in strengthening emotional memories.

She goes on to say that sleep deprivation can also reduce the impact of traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to a study published in the November 2012 issue of Neuroscience Letters. Rats with TBI sustained less damage when they were kept awake for 24 hours after the injury. Taken together, these findings suggest that after a violent, traumatic event—such as a car accident—staying awake for a while could afford both physical and mental protection

Okay, that’s it for now.  Take care and be well.
All best,

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award