Burning the midnight oil can make you a cranky bird come morning. In fact, research has now proved that a lack of sleep intensifies anger…

It’s true – losing just a couple of hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations.

This is according to Iowa State University research, the first study to prove that sleep loss causes anger.

“Despite typical tendencies to get somewhat used to irritating conditions – an uncomfortable shirt or a barking dog – sleep-restricted individuals actually showed a trend toward increased anger and distress, essentially reversing their ability to adapt to frustrating conditions over time. No one has shown this before,” said Zlatan Krizan, professor of psychology at Iowa State.

The sleep study

For the study, participants were split into two groups.

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One group maintained a normal sleep routine and averaged almost seven hours of sleep a night. The second group restricted their sleep by two to four hours each night for two nights and got about four and a half hours each night.

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Measuring anger

Participants come to the lab – before and after the sleep manipulation – to rate different products while listening to annoying brown noise (similar to the sound of spraying water) or more aversive white noise (similar to a static signal).

Krizan says that the purpose was to create uncomfortable conditions, which tend to provoke anger.

“In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep restricted,” Prof Krizan said. “We manipulated how annoying the noise was during the task and as expected, people reported more anger when the noise was more unpleasant. When sleep was restricted, people reported even more anger, regardless of the noise.”

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Sleep effect unique to anger

It is well established that sleep loss increases negative emotions, such as anxiety and sadness, and decreases positive emotions, such as happiness and enthusiasm, Prof Krizan said.

The researchers measured these effects to more generally understand the relationship between sleep, anger and emotions. Prof Krizan says that they found sleep loss to uniquely impact anger, and not just result from feeling more negative in that moment.

So, if you need to keep your cool, get to bed as early as you can.

Source: Iowa State University via www.sciencedaily.com

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