Doctors and therapists have long known that a lack of sleep can greatly affect your mood in a myriad of ways. But new research has shown that losing just a few hours of sleep can easily lead to an increase in anger and frustration during the day.
A team of researchers at Iowa State University conducted a study on emotions and sleep. Afterwards, the “Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,” published it. Their results provide new insight into the relationship between a lack of sleep and being angry. They also show how we can’t adjust well to frustrating situations without enough sleep.
During the course of the study, participants were split into two distinct groups. One group maintained good and regular sleep routines. Meanwhile, the other group had their nightly sleep cut back by roughly 2-4 hours every night.
The sleeping soundly group received an average of seven hours of sleep on a nightly basis. But the restricted group clocked in only 4-5 hours of sleep.
To measure the groups’ moods, the researchers then had the participants come to a lab. In the lab, they were to rate different products while listening to different noises. They included “brown noise,” which is like the sound of spraying water. They also used “white noise,” which is a more unpleasant sound similar to a static signal.
The purpose of this background noise was to determine whether the somewhat uncomfortable conditions would cause a rise in anger. But the researchers wanted to check in particular those participants who were no longer sleeping well.
As it turns out, this was exactly the case. The folks who had sleep restrictions were far more likely to get angry. The noise did not bother their counterparts as much, who were able to get the rest they needed.
In fact, the researchers found that a lack of sleep caused about a 50% increase in feelings of frustration and anger. And this increase occurred after just a couple of days without rest.
The lesson from the study is that if you want to have a good day, get a good night’s rest!
A lack of sleep can have a negative effect on so many of our emotional and cognitive responses.
When we are sleep deprived, even everyday occurrences will most likely irritate us – like heavy traffic or a barking dog. Combine this with a more negative outlook, and a general lack of energy, and you get the emotional baggage of sleep deprivation.
In addition, sleep is restorative and essential for parts of the brain that help control and regulate our emotions. So without sleep, we are more likely to have a quick temper, respond emotionally without thought, and have trouble navigating tricky social situations.
So to ensure you feel at your happy best, get enough sleep! Remember, too, that sleeping disorders – like obstructive sleep apnea – can also have a huge effect on the amount of quality sleep you acquire. So be sure to get tested and seek treatment as soon as possible if you suspect an issue with your sleeping routine.
Most of all, aim to get seven hours or more of sleep every night, (and check for common conditions like obstructive sleep apnea). By doing so, you’ll be far more prepared to face any frustrations, no matter what the daytime brings.