In psychopathology, dissociation typically refers to a disturbance in the normal integration of thoughts, feelings, and experiences into consciousness and memory. In this article, we review the literature on how sleep disturbances relate to dissociative symptoms and memory failure. We contend that this body of research offers a fresh perspective on dissociation. Specifically, we argue that dissociative symptoms are associated with a labile sleep-wake cycle, in which dreamlike mentation invades the waking state, produces memory failures, and fuels dissociative experiences. The research domain of sleep and dissociation can accommodate the dominant idea in the clinical literature that trauma is the distal cause of dissociation, and it holds substantial promise to inspire new treatments for dissociative symptoms (e.g., interventions that focus on normalization of the sleep-wake cycle). We conclude with worthwhile paths for further investigations and suggest that the sleep-dissociation approach may help reconcile competing interpretations of dissociative symptoms.
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- dissociation, sleep, unusual sleep experiences, sleep deprivation, nightmares, memory, commission errors, POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER, MULTIPLE PERSONALITY-DISORDER, CHILDHOOD SEXUAL-ABUSE, SELF-REPORTED TRAUMA, IDENTITY DISORDER, FANTASY PRONENESS, PSYCHIATRIC-INPATIENTS, INDIVIDUAL-DIFFERENCES, COGNITIVE-PROCESSES, COLLEGE-STUDENTS