We have all heard over and over that we should never go to bed angry. Tradition says that we are supposed to stay up as long as it takes and discuss our feelings and issues with our significant other. However, as time goes on, discussion, reasoning, and compromise start to fade as we turn to fighting, yelling, and accusing. It’s 3am and we are tired. We aren’t thinking rationally. We don’t really think that our husband is a pig-headed liar or that our wife is a gold-digging hoe. That is the timing affecting what is coming out of our mouth and the scary part is that you can never take that back. Even if you apologize for what you said, that phrase is going to be ringing in their ear forever as they question whether or not you truly think that. But that doesn’t have to be the way the story goes.
Science has shown that it may actually be better to go to sleep and then have a more level-headed discussion in the morning. Dr. Charles Czeisler, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation and chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, says there is actually a lot of evidence for this:
- The longer you stay awake, the less efficiently your brain works. After a long day, you are literally burnt out of ATP, the energy currency in your brain, but sleep allows your body the time it needs to replenish this.
- When you are tired, the part of your brain that is responsible for judgment and self-control is not functionally properly. You are tired and cranky and irrational. This causes you to snap more and to lack the reasoning you need during a heated discussion.
- Sleep allows your body time to work through problems. During REM sleep, your brain integrates everything that it learned previously that day with other things it had previously learned. This allows your brain time to make sense of things, while you sleep. This gives you the opportunity to process the situation and figure out what to do next.
- Without a good night’s sleep, you are more likely to continuing fighting the next day. Not getting enough sleep makes people experience more negative emotion and react stronger to situations. This means that without a good night’s sleep the next morning, you will still be cranky and tired and therefore, more annoyed and angry with your significant other than you would be if you had gotten a proper night’s sleep.
So next time you find yourself in an argument late at night, consider sleeping on it. It may just work out in the long run.