Poor sleep has far-reaching effects on emotions, can increase anxiety, have a negative impact on overall mood and can also result in a faster heartbeat.
A new study involving experts from the University of Houston examined the effects of various forms of sleep disorders on aspects of emotional experience. The results can be read in the specialist journal “Psychological Bulletin”.
Evaluation of over 150 studies
In total, the researchers analyzed 154 studies from five decades on the subject of sleep, in which 5,715 people took part.
In these studies, participants’ sleep was interrupted on one or more nights, participants were kept awake for longer periods of time, participants were woken up at regular intervals, or participants were simply woken up earlier than usual, the team explains.
In addition, in each of these studies, at least one emotion-related variable was measured and examined after manipulating sleep. For example, the participants’ mood was reported by themselves or symptoms of depression and anxiety were measured, the experts add.
Reduced positive emotions and increased anxiety
When the studies were evaluated, it became clear that all types of sleep loss examined were associated with less positive emotions such as joy, happiness and satisfaction. The team also found that the lack of sleep increased symptoms of anxiety and feelings of worry, and also contributed to a faster heartbeat.
“This happened after short periods of sleep loss, such as when participants stayed up an hour or two longer than usual or when they only lost a few hours of sleep,” reports study author Cara Palmer in a press release.
Sleep loss increases anxiety symptoms and reduces arousal in response to emotional stimuli, she said.
Lack of sleep is widespread
Previous studies have shown that more than 30 percent of adults and up to 90 percent of adolescents do not get enough sleep, Palmer adds. The new results are therefore of considerable importance for individual and public health.
Lack of sleep has an impact on our emotions, which in turn influence many aspects of daily life. Here, the study shows that even a slight lack of sleep has a negative impact on how people react to everyday events, according to study author Professor Candice Alfano.
“In our largely sleep-deprived society, quantifying the impact of sleep loss on emotions is critical to promoting mental health,” adds Palmer.
The new study provides clear evidence that longer periods of wakefulness, shortened sleep duration and night waking negatively affect people’s emotional functioning, which can have far-reaching effects on everyday life. (as)