How to sleep: Stop snapping at loved ones by getting enough shuteye

Sleep deprivation: Doctor gives tips for a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation can cause physical, psychological and relational issues. How can you make sure you’re getting enough deep sleep every night? How much sleep do you really need?The Californian Institute of Behavioural Neurosciences and Psychology investigated the link between sleep debt and the emotion of anger. Prior research highlighted that sleep deprivation can “affect human cognition and overall brain performance”.

Reviewing a body of academic literature, the consensus was that everybody needs “seven to eight hours of sleep each night to maintain peak mental and physical health”.

Anything less than this is considered sleep deprivation, with any more than a few consecutive days regarded as “sleep debt”.

It can be hypothesised that sleep debt could correlate with irritability, aggression, and a short temper.

“The effect of sleep deprivation on mood has been well-documented,” noted the researchers.

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Even one night of sleep deprivation is thought to exacerbate pre-existing mood disturbances.

The amygdala is primarily regarded as the “emotional centre” of the brain; it also “plays an important role in the mechanisms of sleep”.

“When an individual is sleep deprived, a functional deficit occurs between the amygdala and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex,” explained the researchers.

This can result in decreased mood and makes a person more attuned to “negative stimuli”.

Sleep debt reduces the ability of the “medial prefrontal cortex to suppress activity in the amygdala”.

As a result, emotional instability occurs and a prolonged deprivation of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is “associated with functional changes in multiple brain regions”.

This can “result in altered receptor activity, which can lead to mood alterations such as anger”.

Research suggests that getting between seven to eight hours of sleep per night could help “reduce the emotional symptoms of anger”.

Consistently getting a good night’s sleep can help people “exhibit fewer emotional outburst and display fewer aggressive behaviours”.

“These results are seen with minor differences between males and females and across various age groups,” added the research team.

How to get a good night’s sleep

The Sleep Foundation is fond of “healthy sleep hygiene”, which involves a ritual of sorts.

This consists of waking up and going to bed at the same time every day – and it’ll make sense to make sure you factor in eight hours of sleep.

“Whenever possible, give yourself extra time before bed to wind down and get ready for sleep,” said the charity.

This will involve disconnecting from any technological devices that can “keep your brain wired”; examples include: tablets, mobiles, and laptops.

In order to get a good night’s kip, the bedroom will need to be dark, quiet, comfortable and cool.

If you struggle to fall asleep within 20 minutes once your head rests on the pillow, get out of bed and do something relaxing in low light.

The last thing you want to do is to create a mental connection between restlessness and your bed.

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