Sleep deprivation and false memories

Steven J. Frenda*, Lawrence Patihis, Elizabeth F. Loftus, Holly C. Lewis, Kimberly M. Fenn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Many studies have investigated factors that affect susceptibility to false memories. However, few have investigated the role of sleep deprivation in the formation of false memories, despite overwhelming evidence that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive function. We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and false memories and the effect of 24 hr of total sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories. We found that under certain conditions, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing false memories. Specifically, sleep deprivation increased false memories in a misinformation task when participants were sleep deprived during event encoding, but did not have a significant effect when the deprivation occurred after event encoding. These experiments are the first to investigate the effect of sleep deprivation on susceptibility to false memories, which can have dire consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1674-1681
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
Early online date16 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


  • false memory
  • misinformation
  • sleep
  • sleep deprivation
  • suggestibility


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