Researchers from the University of California say those who are sleep-deprived are more likely to remember false details than those who are not.
Their study was conducted with 104 college-age participants who were split into four groups.
Two groups were asked to look at photos of a crime scene upon their arrival, while the other two groups saw the photos the following morning.
Half of them went to sleep, while half of them were asked to stay up all night. All were tested on the details of the photographs the following morning.
“The researchers found that only those students who had been sleep deprived for all parts of the experiment — that is, they viewed the photos, read the narratives, and took the memory test after having stayed up all night — were more likely to report the false details.”
The study found that five hours of sleep or less was associated with the formation of false memories.
Of note, the group who saw the photos before they stayed awake through the night “were no more susceptible to false memories than the students who’d been allowed to sleep.”
The authors put the results into the context of the courtroom, discussing how these findings might affect witness reliability.