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Science Explains Why Lack Of Sleep Makes Us So Angry

If you often feel angry after not getting enough shut eye at night, there’s a good reason for it. As a matter of fact, a new study explains why so many adults end up being in a bad mood all day long after not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

According to research, losing just a few hours of sleep can definitely make you wake up with a mood worse than the Grinch on Christmas morning. Many moms and dads with a newborn at home can definitely attest to that. That’s because there’s new evidence that proves sleep loss causes anger. What’s more, the research also provides insight on how we adjust to irritating conditions whenever we are tired.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and conducted by a team at Iowa State University says that there’s a link between sleep loss and anger. During the study, participants were put into two groups. One maintained their normal sleeping routine while the other one was restricted to two or four hours of sleep per night. The difference in sleep loss was observed in how the participants managed to function during the day. To measure anger, the researchers asked the participants to come to the lab -- before and after the sleep manipulation -- to rate different products while listening to white or brown noise. The purpose was to create uncomfortable conditions, which tend to provoke anger. Needless to say, those who didn’t have enough sleep felt much more irritated by the noise than the participants who slept through the night.

Credit: iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Zlatan Krizan, professor of psychology at Iowa State, says that there might be a few additional factors as to why people act like they just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and it mostly has to do with their sleep conditions, environment, or even the quality of their pajamas or bedsheets.

"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," Krizan said.

For anyone who has ever struggled to fall asleep but often heard their neighbor’s car on the street, a cat meowing from the other side of the fence, or even a partner snoring next to them, can definitely agree.

For those looking to maximize the number of hours they sleep at night or simply improve the quality surrounding their sleeping conditions, there are several things you can do. First, turn off all electronics, tablets and television screens before going to bed, block your clock, forgo a mid-day nap and better yet, save your bed for sleep.

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