Everyone deals with anger. Whether it’s at yourself or direct toward someone else, anger can literally cost you sleep due to unresolved conflicts and disagreements.
Couples spend nearly an hour and a half trying to make amends before bed, which cost those trying to get to sleep an additional two hours and 30 minutes due to conflicts.
At the moment, it may never seem like the right time to put off an argument until the morning but for those in a heated debate, perhaps it actually pays to wait until the morning, according to a new study.
If you’re feeling angry, medical experts suggest hitting the hay as a good night of sleep can help fight angry and increased frustration. Research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine published in the journal Sleep sought to find how sleep impacts “contextualized emotional responses” beyond anxiety and depression, which is where anger comes into play. It’s been known that anger can disrupt sleep but researchers wanted to know how strong emotional reactions can hinder a good night’s rest.
“The results are important because they provide strong causal evidence that sleep restriction increases anger and increases frustration over time,” Zlatan Krizan, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said in a press release. “Moreover, the results from the daily diary study suggest such effects translate to everyday life, as young adults reported more anger in the afternoon on days they slept less.”
Researchers said they use diaries and lab experiments in order to comprise their results. A total of 202 college students’ daily diary entries were examined where they were asked to track sleep patterns, daily stressors, as well as anger over the course of one month.
Those results found that participants who skimped out on sleep experienced more anger in the next day than what was their normal tolerance.
The study expanded this exercise to nearly 150 people in a community, where participants were asked to fill out a sleep schedule. Participants were either allowed to maintain their normal sleep schedule or had to limit sleep to around five hours for two nights per week. This type of test was done on purpose as researchers wanted to see how high anger levels were when participants were exposed to loud noises, which did just that.
When participants received an ample amount of sleep, anger levels were lower when they were exposed to noise but that wasn’t the case for those on the restricted sleep schedule. Researchers said that sleep-restricted participants recorded higher and increased levels of anger when listening to the noise, which may be a byproduct of sleep impact our emotional state.
Per the study:
Together, these results provide compelling evidence that lost sleep amplifies anger in both the laboratory and everyday life, while also pointing to short-term (subjective sleepiness) and mid-term (stress) mediators of these influences. The findings also point to the value of examining specific emotional reactions (and their regulation) in the context of sleep disruption, alongside affect more broadly.
The message here: Sleep helps and there probably hasn’t been a time where people need it more than during the COVID-19 pandemic.