Sleep, or lack of it, truly can influence emotions, mood, memory, decision-making, aggression, and more.
While asleep, your body and brain are doing much more than simply resting or powering down. Your body also clears out waste byproducts of waking activity, repairs tissues, and balances hormones. Because the processes taking place during sleep are so complex, there are many potential ways that both resting and not resting can affect brain chemistry and thereby impact emotional regulation, memory, mood, and other factors outlined below.
Researchers found that poor sleep quality was associated with decreased ability to regulate negative emotions. Sleep plays a protective role in emotional processing and attenuation too.
Sleep could affect memory in several ways, including how we process and store new memories, and our ability to accurately retrieve old ones. We are also more likely to remember things that match our current mood. If you are happy, for example, pleasant memories are more forthcoming, whereas in times of sadness or anger, less pleasant memories emerge more easily.
The mood we are in can color how we perceive things that happen to us, how we interact with others, as well as motivation to do things like exercise or work. Sleep-deprived people reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and anger on low-stress tasks compared to well-rested people.
Creating good sleep habits on a daily basis is a wise move for everyone. Sleeping and waking on a regular schedule, getting at least seven hours, getting regular exercise and good nutrition and taking time to de-stress all help contribute to better rest.
If you find yourself facing an emotionally charged situation, sleep may be even more important. Clear your mind before bed with meditation or yoga, and then take the night to sleep on a tough decision and temper your thoughts. If it’s midday, a brief nap may also be a useful tool for balancing your mind.
A few different aspects of cognition are involved in making decisions, and while mood and memory play important roles, there’s even more going on. Getting a good night’s rest boosts your brain and helps balance your mental state in support of wiser decisions and healthier relationships.
A sleepless night is a great excuse for skipping the gym, but you’ll feel better if you engage in light movement. Choose a gentle Pilates, or a slow yoga flow. Enhancing circulation, boosting metabolism, and engaging in mild cardio are excellent for strengthening immunity, reducing physical tension, and improving mood.
Choosing healthy alternatives can make you feel much better. Avoid eating right before bed. Giving our bodies time to digest and rest is key.