As we always say, sleep lays the foundation of your life. Caring for it requires a lot of effort, but the returns are considerable. If you’re still not sure about adopting a new routine, noticing the emotional benefits might change your mind.
We all feel moody after sleeping poorly, but it’s because we’re tired, right? It’s not that simple. Sure, no one likes to feel sleepy all day. However, sleep’s relationship with your emotions is more intricate.
Sleep and emotional regulation
Sleep is responsible for countless functions: learning, recovery, memory, and more. That’s not only in humans. Plenty of research has focused on the role of sleeping in our mental well-being.
Emotionally, sleep’s vital responsibility is emotional regulation. We know that our emotions can impact our sleep. We’ve all failed to sleep because of stress or anxiety. However, it’s a symbiotic dynamic, and sleep is crucial for our emotions.
This study goes through how sleep and its different phases affect our mental health. Let’s dive into its most important points.
Sleep has an adaptive role regarding the daily processing of emotions and stressors. That’s why sleep deprivation causes REM and slow-wave sleep to rebound. Both stages are vital for proper sleep. They tie into emotional regulation, as sleep deprivation causes affective dysfunction.
Insomnia often results in social function impairment. The emotional effects of sleep deprivation are obvious in our daily performance.
REM sleep and emotion modulation
REM sleep is responsible for vivid dreams, and it’s vital for modulating our emotions. Dream content differs depending on sleep and night stages. During this phase, we process daily motives and emotions.
The culmination of these emotions tends to produce nightmares, particularly during the REM stage. Negative emotions decrease with nightmares. They serve as pseudo-therapy by compensating for poor emotion regulation during the day.
NREM sleep and regulation
Non-REM sleep is moderately unknown regarding its effects on emotional processing. However, recent research has focused on its importance in fear extinction and processing.
Slow-wave sleep may play a primary role in diminishing fear tied to specific stimuli. Decreases in hippocampal activity occur during NREM sleep, and the amygdala’s patterns reorganize.
How does sleep tie into your mood?
After a poor night’s sleep, we’re usually irritable and more vulnerable to stress. Even minor sleep deprivation can incur noticeable mood changes. Sleeping less than six hours for a prolonged period can cause stress, anger, and sadness.
Resuming normal sleep schedules usually improve patients’ mood dramatically. Unfortunately, a poor mood can disrupt our sleep as well. It creates a problematic cycle if you’re trying to fix your schedule.
Insomnia’s psychological repercussions
Insomnia ties into common psychological issues. Depressed and anxious patients often report poor sleep, being a typical symptom. Poor sleep considerably increases someone’s chances of suffering from major depression.
Even when mentally healthy, insomnia can contribute to mood disorders. Depression seems to be the most prominent consequence. Nevertheless, poor sleep is also one of anxiety’s risk factors.
Sleep if you feel things are getting tough
Daily irritability often comes from poor sleep. We’ve all had a friend who’s utterly different when they haven’t slept well. That’s why naps can be a therapeutic wonder for stressed individuals.
It’s a common discovery for parents with younger kids. Napless children are often emotionally dysregulated.
Emotional memories and our amygdala
As we mentioned, sleep helps us process and understand emotions. It’s crucial for encoding information by tying it into daily experiences. That’s why sleep is fundamental for memory preservation and learning.
Emotional memories are mostly responsible for sleep’s benefits. The amygdala activates with these memories. This activation is responsible for prioritizing particular memories over others.
As such, sleep can transform our emotional memory. It helps us remember emotional responses and their results. What’s the result? We can control our emotional responses considerably better.
The holistic takeaway
Sleep helps us process memories, emotions, experiences, and more. It ties into how we learn from everything, including our feelings. With proper discipline, we can turn sleep into an invaluable ally to build our emotional intelligence.
However, most of us need that discipline. Developing a healthy sleep schedule and organizing our days accordingly is crucial. While it can be challenging, it’s among the best investments you can make.