Ever wake up grumpy after a night of tossing and turning? The two go hand-in-hand even more than you may realize.
Sleep is critical for maintaining healthy and efficient functioning, but also happy and healthy emotions. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, our brains tend to rebel against us—affecting our bodies and our minds.
Research in sleep deprivation finds that the effects of sleep loss mimic symptoms of being highly intoxicated. Both states greatly impair perception and reaction time, affecting not only what we see but also how we act. This state makes it almost impossible to think clearly or meet the demands of our day. And, if the brain isn’t firing quickly, productivity dips and so does our patience!
Sleep loss also affects our social interactions, or ability to connect and attune to others by impairing our emotional perceptions and modes of collaboration. Studies find that people who sleep poorly are more likely to avoid social contact, and consequently, are avoided by others, too.
So, it appears that sleep loss affects the ability to process information and function, but by default, may also impact the people in our lives; our colleagues, families, and loved ones…
Further, a study by Sandra Tamm, researcher at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of the Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm, Sweden, honed in on this socio-emotional component of sleep loss. She found that a sleep-deprived person might avoid social interactions because they are more likely to negatively interpret emotional stimuli, a situation called “negativity bias.” Sleep deprivation can make a person more sensitive to the negative subtleties in others, “feeling rubbed the wrong way,” even when that subtlety may have never bothered before.
It’s clear that sleep loss is not a good thing, or a good feeling. It affects our mood and makes it difficult to regulate our emotions and actions. Without sleep, our brains basically turn off efficient executive processing impairing decision-making, emotional processing, and social interactions.
So, how can you ensure a good nights sleep? Here are a few simple tricks…
Eat right. Certain foods like almonds, warm milk, chamomile tea, and even lettuce contain sleep-promoting compounds that encourage a restful nights sleep.
Shower. A shower before bed is helpful in cooling off your body and adjusting your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep-wake cycle, along with a host of other biological functions. However, temperature matters. Research suggests a hot water can have a similar effect to a cold one: energizing your body and waking you up instead of calming you for sleep. So, stick with a warm shower.
Turn down early. Instead of watching that one last episode, turn off the T.V. and pick up a book. TVs, tablets, smartphones or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock and suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin—making it much harder to fall asleep. Reading, on the other hand, is the perfect way to wind down after a long day.
While these may be helpful tricks, sleeping well really relies on making sleep a priority. That may mean you reschedule your day to deal with stressful tasks in the morning/afternoon. That way, come early evening, your body and mind have had time to wind down before hitting the pillow.
Sleep for your heath and happiness, and the health and happiness of others, too!