Have you ever joked that a grumpy friend “woke up on the wrong side of the bed?” Well, what is more likely is that they simply woke up with too few hours of sleep that morning. Sleep is critical in the brain’s ability to process and regulate emotions, which is why we can be so irritable and unpleasant when we’re running on empty. While everyone deals with feelings of anger and frustration, at times we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by them. And, when we become flooded with these emotions, one can truly feel as if they are drowning in a sea of frustration, negativity, and anger. However, improving your sleep health may be one strategy that you can use to help rid yourself of those unwanted feelings of anger and irritability.
Effects of Lack of Sleep on the Body
We all know that shorting ourselves of sleep for a night will cause us to wake up feeling like a zombie, but consistently missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep will dramatically impact your mental and physical health. The long-term effects of sleep loss can include:
- Mood disorders including depression and anxiety
- Inability to regulate emotions
- Memory issues
- Weakened immune system
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Low sex-drive
Relationship Between Sleep and Anger
When looking at anger and sleep, a 2018 Iowa State University study found that losing just a couple hours of sleep at night caused an increase in patients’ feelings of anger – especially in frustrating situations. The participants who reduced their sleep by 2 to 4 hours for just two nights showed an increase in anger and distress in response to irritating conditions like an uncomfortable shirt or a barking dog. In fact, the ability of these individuals to adapt to frustrating situations essentially reversed over time.
Brain-imaging studies have shown that consistently receiving a good night’s sleep helps the brain to regulate moods. According to research conducted by the University of California Berkeley, the brain reverts to more primitive patterns of activity when it does not receive the proper amount of sleep. Consequentially, the sleep-deprived brain is unable to put emotional experiences into context or produce appropriate, controlled responses to emotional stimuli.
How to Improve Sleep Health
If you are struggling with feelings of anger, improving your sleep health may be the key to finding a stable mental state. The following strategies will help you achieve a balanced sleep life:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Pick a time to go to bed and a time to wake up every day that will give you roughly 8 hours of sleep! Sleeping in on weekends will disrupt your cycle – so, stick with your schedule!
- Purchase a sleep tracker. There are many options of sleep trackers – from wearable trackers to thin mats that slip under your mattress. Sleep trackers assess the quality of your sleep, find your optimal wake up time, and provide you with personalized sleep coaching.
- Cut the lights. Turn off all electronic devices that emit blue-light 1 hour before bedtime! This high-energy light will prevent you from getting a good rest. Secondly, sleep in a dark environment, as this will help you fall into a deep sleep faster.
Sleep means a great deal to our mental and physical well-being. If you find yourself struggling to cope with the emotional rollercoaster that is life, or you are easily frustrated and angered, it is very likely that your sleep health is not in tip-top shape. Thankfully, you do not have to suffer with these feelings forever! If you want to reduce your negative emotions and responses, use the tips provided to improve your sleep health and mental well-being.