Science says your anger problem may actually be a sleep issue

Brittany A. Roston - Aug 29, 2020, 10:00am CDT
Science says your anger problem may actually be a sleep issue

If you find yourself prone to temperamental outbursts and excessive anger, the issue may ultimately result from sleep and your lack of it. The research is one of the multiple studies published last week by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which notes that its preliminary findings show a link between getting less sleep than usual and experiencing anger.

The study evaluated data on more than 200 college students, a section of the population that is prone to experiencing inadequate sleep on a fairly regular basis. The researchers found that after days of getting less sleep than the participants were used to, those same individuals reported feeling more angry than usual, indicating a potential link between the two.

Joining those participants was another group of people — this one described as ‘community residents’ — who were instructed to either restrict their sleep to five hours or so for two nights, or to sleep their usual schedules. The researchers then played annoying noises to the participants to determine their anger reactions.

The results weren’t surprising to anyone who has ever gotten too little sleep — those who were mildly sleep-deprived were also more likely to experience higher levels of anger in relation to the loud noise and their anger was more likely to get worse over time.

In comparison, the participants who got regular amounts of sleep were less angry when exposed to the noise and were better able to adapt to its presence, indicating that sleep plays an important role in emotional regulation. Underscoring that point, the study also found that sleep-deprived individuals were more likely to experience anger after playing an online game tournament.


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