MIND Reviews

MIND Reviews

Less than six hours of nightly sleep can lead to obesity and even death, but sleep plays an equally important role in regulating our emotions. In The Twenty-Four Hour Mind psychologist Rosalind Cartwright gives an engaging account of the history of sleep research. She skillfully weaves in her 50 years’ worth of work in the field, delving into her own theories about the purpose of dreams and highlighting the importance of sleep to maintain our physical and mental well-being.

Cartwright proposes that dreams diffuse the impact of otherwise disturbing emotions by matching them with similar experiences already stored in our long-term memory. Her own studies have shown that even when people go to bed angry or sad, their dreams can turn progressively more positive as the night wears on, allowing the person to wake up in a better mood. She has also built her theory on studies in which volunteers played virtual games and later associated the emotional situations in the games to experiences in their own lives. While they slept, volunteers reported pairing the virtual images with memories of similar emotional experiences. Cartwright concluded that this emotional matching process mitigates some of the negative feelings associated with the events.

Advertisements