How Sleep Affects Your Mood
Everyone knows intuitively that they feel more grumpy the day after they miss hours of sleep, but science has actually broken the effect of sleep deprivation down for us. Lack of sleep can:
Increase negative feelings like irritability, hostility, and aggression
Decrease your ability to regulate those negative feelings
Decrease your positive feelings like contentment, humor and empathy
Decrease your ability to feel pleasant things.
So, in short, when you’re underslept you’re more likely to get angry and less likely to be able to control it. You’re also less likely to feel good in the first place, but if you do feel something pleasant, it doesn’t feel as good as it would if you were adequately rested.
How Much Sleep Loss Is Too Much?
The holidays can be fraught enough, and nobody needs their ability to smooth over difficult conversations to be hampered. So how much sleep loss will cause these negative effects? The answer is: surprisingly little. Getting 1-2 hours less sleep than you need for 4 days in a row is enough to trigger these effects; missing sleep for a single night can cause a hormonal response in your body. And what about the chronically underslept? Those who get 4.5 hours of sleep per night or less are in even worse shape–that amount of sleep loss can cause anxiety and feelings of being sad by itself, even if the person isn’t typically prone to feeling down.
Tips For Better Holiday Sleep
With parties, family commitments, and religious observations, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain healthy habits over the holidays, and sleep is no exception. Here’s some ideas for keeping up your sleep schedule–and sanity–this year:
Make sure your mattress isn’t the problem. Experts advise changing your mattress every 7-10 years, or whenever it becomes less comfortable. If you’re regularly waking up stiff, sore, or tossing and turning all night, your mattress might be the culprit. Replace it if necessary.
Binge-watching your favorite TV show or mindlessly scrolling through social media might seem relaxing, but the light from the screen can inhibit the production of melatonin, your “sleepy” hormone. Try to avoid screens and bright lights for 1-2 hours before bed.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every night. If one night you’re unable to get to sleep on time, for example for an office party, try to get up at a normal time the next morning anyway, even if you feel tired. Then, if possible ,nap during the afternoon.
The causes of anxiety and depression are many-faceted and should always be explored with a competent professional, but for many of us, getting enough sleep is a common-sense preventative measure. This holiday season, you’ve got enough to deal with–don’t tackle it without adequate sleep. Get your rest, and get ready to enjoy the holidays, not just get through them.
Up All Night: The Effects Of Sleep Loss On Mood – www.psychologytoday.com
Sleep And Mood – www.healthysleep.med.harvard.edu