A study has found that lack of sleep could make people forgetful and can even implant ‘false’ memories of events that have never taken place.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Michigan State University, found that those deprived of sleep were more likely to struggle to remember the details of a simulated burglary when shown a series of images.
Researchers said it could have serious consequences for the criminal justice system, in which eyewitness are often asked to identify offenders following a stressful situation which may have disrupted their sleep.
But it is also likely to have repercussions in everyday life, with couples remembering past events differently.
Psychologist Dr Kimberly Fenn, of Michigan State University in the United States, said the study found that memory distortion is greater after sleep deprivation, and that 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.
Lack of sleep, less than seven to eight hours, is already considered as being bad for one’s health, and insufficient sleep has also been linked to vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Lack of sleep is also believed to harm the learning ability of children, and even lead to the loss of brain cells in adults which in the long term could cause Alzheimer’s disease.