An ex-military man who wakes up with a nightmare in the middle of the night overwhelmed in his sleep by the hard memories of the war. It’s a typical movie scene, but what does it mean?
Practically during our sleep the memories of our life emerge, but during the REM phase the brain is able to process the most painful and difficult memories by destroying the chemical factors generated by stress. In this phase, Rapid Eye Movement – memories are reactivated and processed (linked, seen from other perspectives, integrated) but at a level where neurochemicals of stress do not exist: tests on the electrical activity of the brain have indeed shown that the levels of neurochemicals produced by stress are reduced during sleep.
In subjects analyzed by Berkeley scholars, MRI showed that sleep causes a drastic reduction in the reactivity of the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions. This allows the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, to regain emotional control.
Sleeping works like a therapy, which smoothes the edges of negative emotions experienced during the day – explains the co-author of the study-. Dreaming serves to soften the emotional strength of the experiences.
This would explain why people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), like war veterans, suffer from recurring nightmares.
For the record Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, better known by the English acronym PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), can take different paths: it can be understood and reabsorbed; turn into depression or inability to return to civilian life; explode in murderous rage towards the companion, a family member, the first who passes or towards themselves (according to many experts the estimate of the American veterans who committed suicide after Vietnam – more than 60,000 – exceeded that of the dead in the war – 58,000).
Take care of your body and mind.
Many people have found that performing appropriate physical activity, following a healthy diet and resting appropriately can significantly affect the condition. Furthermore, all these strategies have proven effective in combating both stress and anxiety, which are obviously very intense in patients with PTSD.
Franco defines itself as a person trapped in a sedentary lifestyle, however, he is an avid fitness “addict” and like, many more in his environment spends vast parts of his leisure time on a gym, running, cycling.