Are you angry or upset? It might be good if you calm yourself down before trying to fall asleep.

CC0 Public Domain

According to a Chinese study published in the journal Nature Communications, the memory of negative experiences consolidate during the night and thus becomes more difficult to forget. That’s because the brain reorganizes information when we sleep.

73 people participated in the study, where they were shown a series of unpleasant images that aimed to cause feelings of anxiety. Then after a night’s sleep, those participants who were shown the unpleasant images struggled more to suppress the memory of these pictures.

The researchers believe this is because it is more difficult for the brain to suppress emotional memories it consolidated during the night – that becomes more widespread in neural circuits in the cerebral cortex.

The researchers now hope that this improved understanding of how changes in the brain affect our ability to manage and handle the memories of unpleasant experiences may improve the treatment of people who have experienced traumatic events, and as such suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

Y. Liu et al., “Memory Consolidation reconfigures neural pathways Involved in the suppression of the emotional memories” Nature Communications. 2016. DOI: 10.1038 / ncomms13375