Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 232, Issue 5, pp 1403–1414 | Cite as

Sleep and the processing of emotions

  • Gaétane DeliensEmail author
  • Médhi Gilson
  • Philippe PeigneuxEmail author
Research Article


How emotions interact with cognitive processes has been a topic of growing interest in the last decades, as well as studies investigating the role of sleep in cognition. We review here evidence showing that sleep and emotions entertain privileged relationships. The literature indicates that exposure to stressful and emotional experiences can induce changes in the post-exposure sleep architecture, whereas emotional disturbances are likely to develop following sleep alterations. In addition, post-training sleep appears particularly beneficial for the consolidation of intrinsically emotional memories, suggesting that emotions modulate the off-line brain activity patterns subtending memory consolidation processes. Conversely, sleep contributes unbinding core memories from their affective blanket and removing the latter, eventually participating to habituation processes and reducing aversive reactions to stressful stimuli. Taken together, these data suggest that sleep plays an important role in the regulation and processing of emotions, which highlight its crucial influence on human’s abilities to manage and respond to emotional information.


Sleep Emotion Emotion regulation Memory Dreams 



M.G. and G.D. were FRS-FNRS Research Fellow at the time of writing this manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuropsychology and Functional Neuroimaging Research Unit (UR2NF), Center for Research in Cognition and Neurosciences (CRCN) and UNI, ULB Neurosciences InstituteUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)BrusselsBelgium

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