Sleep studies conducted in the last few months suggest Americans are receiving much less of it than they should.
The long-term consequences of poor sleep are well documented and far-reaching. And any night owl will tell you that sleepless nights can incite psychological disruptions in the immediate.
So could a new study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine journal.
“Sleeping is understood as essential to affective function, yet little is known about how sleep shapes more specific and contextualized emotional responses besides anxiety and depression, such as anger,” the authors wrote in the new report. “Anger itself involves arousal and can disrupt sleep. To examine the causal role of sleep in anger, a daily-diary study and an experimental study tested whether shortened sleep amplifies angry feelings, while exploring mediating mechanisms of this influence.”
After analyzing the daily diary entries from a study pool comprised of 202 college students, the researchers determined that poor sleep was closely associated with increased rage the following day.
In a month’s time, those who failed to achieve sufficient amounts of sleep were less apt at responding to daily stressors and curbing angry impulses.
” Subjective sleepiness accounted for most of the experimental effect of sleep loss on anger”
In order to verify results, the Iowa State University researchers paired the preliminary results with an experiment that employed 147 community residents.
Participants belonging to this pool were randomly put into two groups.
One group got to maintain their regular sleep schedule while the others were made to restrict their sleep by roughly five hours across two nights.
To determine how temperament changed among the experiment group the researchers introduced a grating noise.
Just as the authors anticipated, those who restricted their sleep were significantly more likely to evidence anger in response to the control stimulus.
“The results are important because they provide strong causal evidence that sleep restriction increases anger and increases frustration over time,” said Zlatan Krizan, who has a doctorate in personality and social psychology and is a professor of psychology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. “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.”
According to The National Sleep Foundation guideline, healthy adults should try to receive between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. For babies, young children, and teens the value is closer to eleven hours.
“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 authors concluded in the paper. “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.”