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Neuroscience

Sleep Restriction Relating to Anger

Do emotions directly correlate with sleep? Through multiple scientific studies, this article dives deeper into the science of why sleep and anger are related.

Introduction

Anger. One of the most painful emotions to encounter. Regardless of how much humans despise the feeling, everyone has experienced it. Not only is the feeling unpleasant, but the physical and mental health problems caused by excessive anger are dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening. Controlling it is challenging and tedious; allowing it to roam free hurts others and oneself. However, what if there was a way to lessen the amount of anger that is felt by merely sleeping?

A typical person needs 7-8 hours of sleep per night. When getting less than that, one goes into sleep deprivation. When this continues to happen for multiple consecutive days, a person will go into sleep debt. Sleep deprivation and sleep debt are very dangerous for the body because it can cause memory issues, mood changes, weakened immunity, higher risk for diabetes, weight gain, and more. Humans tend to be more irritable when tired. Therefore, it is much more likely for someone to get angry when they are on low sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can be fuel for anger, and getting enough sleep can lessen the emotion in your body.

Studies

In a 2016 study done on 2767 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16; 52% of the participants were male, and 48% were female. The main objective of this study was to see whether less sleep leads to more behavioral problems. The study showed that the teenagers who slept less had more behavioral problems than those who slept the recommended hours. They reported emotional changes, including an increase in anger.

Another study was done on Japanese high school juniors and seniors to see whether poor sleep habits impacted impulsivity as well as negative behaviors. Teenagers were asked about their sleep patterns; 12% of younger teens and 18% of older teens slept less than the recommended time. These children reported more behavioral issues and negative behaviors/emotions, such as anger. This study helps to prove the theory of sleep deprivation relating to anger.

Furthermore, the amygdala is commonly known as the emotional center of the brain. However, it also plays a crucial role in the process of sleeping. When one is sleep-deprived, there is a functional deficit between the amygdala and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex (VACC), which causes an increase in negative emotions. 

Conclusion

Better sleep will give one a balanced mind. It is evident that sleep and emotions will be correlated because of the functions of the amygdala. The study on adolescents proves that less sleep affects emotions and behavior. Along with this, the Japanese survey of juniors and seniors showed the same results. The less sleep one has, the more likely it is for them to be angry or frustrated throughout the day. Therefore, sleep restriction will increase anger levels.

By Sai Datla

Sai Datla is a freshman at Westford Academy in Westford, Massachusetts. She is interested in the field of psychology and human life sciences.

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