Sleep spindle dynamics suggest over-consolidation in post-traumatic stress disorder

Devastating and persisting traumatic memories are a central symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sleep problems are highly co-occurrent with PTSD and intertwined with its etiology. Notably, sleep hosts memory consolidation processes, supported by sleep spindles (11-16 Hz). Here we assess the hypothesis that intrusive memory symptoms in PTSD may arise from excessive memory consolidation, reflected in exaggerated spindling.



We use a newly developed spindle detection method, entailing minimal assumptions regarding spindle phenotype, to assess spindle activity in PTSD patients and traumatized controls. Our results show increased spindle activity in PTSD, which positively correlates with daytime intrusive memory symptoms. Together, these findings provide a putative mechanism through which the profound sleep disturbance in PTSD may contribute to memory problems. Due to its uniform and unbiased approach, the new, minimal assumption spindle analysis seems a promising tool to detect aberrant spindling in psychiatric disorders.

A C van der Heijden, W F Hofman, M de Boer, M J Nijdam, H J F van Marle, R A Jongedijk, M Olff, L M Talamini | 2022
In: Sleep ; ISSN: 1550-9109 | 45 | 9 | september | zsac139
Adults, Anxiety Disorders, Etiology, Intrusive Thoughts, Memory, Mental health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Research, Sleep Disorders, Statistical Analysis