Sean van Staden
One thing you can do to get through the night uninterrupted is by improving your serotonin and melatonin levels, which means eating correctly.
Has anyone ever asked you, “Why are you overreacting and why are you so emotional?” The reason you might be feeling this way is because you are not getting enough quality sleep and your brain is in a state of emotional irrationality and hyperreactivity.
Matt Walker, a sleep scientist, and a group of researchers conducted a study with two sample groups of participants. One group had a full night of rest and the other group was sleep deprived. The next morning an MRI scan was taken of each groups’ brains to see what was happening under the hood. Researchers focused on area called the amygdala, which is responsible for strong emotions and reactions which include negative emotional reactions.
Participants that had a good night’s sleep had a moderate or “appropriate” amount of activity. The participants that were sleep deprived on the other hand were in a state of hyperreactivity and up to 60 percent more active than the group that had more sleep.
It is important to understand that you cannot take any piece of “new findings” in isolation, as in this case, so the researchers needed more context. They further went on to discover that your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain just above your eyes which makes all the high-level executive decision, controls the amygdala. In participants that had a good night’s sleep, the communication levels were healthy back and forth, which allowed for better decision making and reactions. In participants with just one nights’ deprived sleep, the amygdala is in such a state of arousal that it almost blocks the directive from the command centre.
Think about the times when you could bite your tongue during an argument and then think of those irrational outbursts that even you think afterwards, “I could have handled that better, this is normally not me.”
There is some good news to be heard here. Having a good night’s sleep can super charge your emotional integrity and allow for reduced emotional outbursts and irrational behaviour. It is important to note that in order to have a restful night’s sleep you need to enter into the REM (rapid eye movement) cycle. This happens towards the end of your cycle of sleep where you are in deep sleep. REM helps desensitise the stressors that occurred during the day and helps you cope better with it. Shortening your sleep means you don’t get into REM sleep and your amygdala overacts because of this.
There has been a long standing “old wives’ tale” of advice that one should never fight or make bold decisions at night but rather first thing in the morning. This research proves this advice is right. Things always seem clearer and less of a problem in the morning. You still might have a problem to overcome, but you are not overacting and in a state of oversensitivity provided you had a good night’s rest.
Here are some top tips to get a good night’s rest
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.