“We found memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation,” said Kimberly Fenn, MSU associate professor of psychology and co-investigator of the study. “And people are getting less sleep each night than they ever have.”
Published online in the journal Psychological Science last month, the study found that participants kept awake for 24 hours—and even those who had five hours or fewer of sleep—were more likely to mix up event details than those who were well-rested. The study, conducted on both campuses, used simulated burglaries shown in a series of images to test the subjects’ memories.
“People who repeatedly get low amounts of sleep every night could be more prone in the long run to develop these forms of memory distortion,” Fenn said. “It’s not just a full night of sleep deprivation that puts them at risk.”