Why Good Sleep is Important for Your Emotional Health

First of all, even one poor night of sleep makes us cranky, volatile, and emotionally sensitive. Furthermore, research has confirmed that even one night of sleep loss causes us to overreact or lash out in anger and frustration to unpleasant situations.

Most noteworthy, researchers from Tel Aviv University have shown this happens because lack of sleep increases activity in the part of the brain known as the amygdala. As a result, we react intensely to negative situations.

In addition, communication between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex breaks down. In fact, the prefrontal cortex, involved in emotional regulation, handles complex tasks such as controlling impulsiveness. As a result, you become more impulsive and less thoughtful in your emotional responses.

Most of all, our daily emotionally charged experiences get stored in the brain as memories. Furthermore, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is important for processing these memories and ease the emotional sting of these memories. Therefore, getting enough REM sleep lets your emotional mind return to a less-charged state.

In fact, REM sleep occurs up to 5 times while you sleep. Moreover REM sleep starts small and gradually increases duration as the night goes on.  As a consequence, if you don’t get enough sleep, the REM sleep doesn’t get time to do its restoring function. And this causes your emotional life to suffer.

In fact, studies show that lack of sleep increases anxiety and worry about what’s to come. So if you tend to worry it’s important to get enough sleep.

Also, researchers have found that lack of sleep lessens our emotional empathy or the ability to understand another person’s feeling, thoughts, and experiences.

Especially relevant, other studies have found that because of their ability to multitask, a woman’s brain expends more energy that a man’s. As a result, women need the sleep more to restore full, healthy functionality to the brain. Therefore, when they don’t get enough sleep, first thing in the morning, women experience more anger, hostility and depression. Most noteworthy, these experiences also happen to men but women’s occur quicker than men’s.

In addition, other studies show that lack of sleep causes people to have more repetitive negative thoughts. Also they are less able to turn their minds away from ruminating on negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

Finally, not getting enough sleep has many other impacts on the body (see infographic).