Recently, I covered sleep’s role in emotional regulation. While researching the article, I came across this article by BBC. While I added it to our article, it definitely deserves more attention.
Today, we’ll go through its reported mental benefits of napping and why it works. Make sure you read the original article for more detailed information.
They’re responsible for the amygdala’s activation
Emotional memories during sleep activate the amygdala, which allows memory prioritization. It tags the most important memories, making them easier to remember than others.
Sleep’s role in processing memories can change this process. It helps us process these memories differently.
It changes with sleep phases
However, different types of sleep work differently for memory and emotional processing. Most experts split sleep types into two categories: REM and non-REM sleep.
REM sleep has the strongest ties with emotional memories. More REM sleep could even make you better at reading other people’s intentions.
One theory suggests that we can integrate real-life experiences with related memories. It allows us to process the “pain” from said memories.
NREM and slow-wave sleep
SWS helps us consolidate memories. How much SWS we get during sleep influences how we transform emotional memories.
Furthermore, naps consist of NREM sleep most of the time. That’s why naps contribute to children’s emotional memory processing.
Sleeping better once makes the following nights easier. Furthermore, certain sleep facets can be more helpful for emotional processing. Lucid dreaming is often suggested as great for treating PTSD.
However, lack of sleep could also be positive in specific cases…
Insomnia might have a function
Wake therapy refers to deprive people of sleep deliberately. It’s becoming more common for treating depression. One theory is that it jolts our circadian system.
Additionally, insomnia is a biological response to trauma. People with longer REM stages tend toward depression. The reason is likely the re-consolidation of negative memories.
The holistic takeaway
Proper sleep—including naps—can be the most powerful ally against emotional stress. However, it requires considerable care. Sleeping less or more than you should result in negative consequences.
That said, try to take a nap if you feel you’re about to explode. Just keep in mind not to overdo it. It might be the only solution you need!