Do your relationship and your brain a favor. Act for a moment that you and your significant other are having a bad fight. You are angry, they are angry, everyone is angry. There are shouting and crying, and perhaps even name-calling.
It is awful.
It is also like, 3 am. So what are you going to do? Here is an idea: GO TO SLEEP. Now. And do not bother about the old saying “Do not go to sleep angry”. Since that is just bullshit (according to science)! You may believe that by staying up to work it out shows that you appreciate your relationship and that it also shows you want to put in the effort to fix the problem.
However, by pursuing this tired idea, you are doing more harm than good. When you are without sleep for an extended period of time, your brain simply will not work as effective as it would normally do. Since the longer you remain awake, the less efficient your brain burns energy.
One of the biggest function of sleep is to offer your body time to regenerate a molecule called the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in your cells. ATP is a molecule which scientists often refer to as “the energy currency for life”. ATP is in all cells, and that is where your all energy to do things derives from.
You consume your stored ATP as you burn energy.
The lesser ATP you have, the less effective you burn your energy. The longer you remain awake, the more you deplete your ATP without restoring it. Imagine your household appliances cannot work properly when you do not have the correct voltage coming through your electric sockets.
It is the same thing when you use your brain with lesser power capability. If your capability to burn energy becomes compromised, it impacts various parts of your brain. For instance, the prefrontal cortex that is tied to judgment and self-discipline.
When your judgment and self-discipline are not functioning right, you might say or do something you regret. What started out as a mere argument could develop into something far more destructive when you cannot control yourself. Will not it be better to simply put the angry argument on hold for a couple of hours?
Also, your brain can iron out your angry issues for you in your sleep.
There are various phases of sleep. Deep sleep is the phase when you save memories. Rapid eye movement (REM) is the phase of sleep when we consolidate all that we learned in the day. So in REM sleep you actually integrate those new memories with old memories that you previously saved.
Insight is a crucial aspect of what occurs during REM sleep. Your brain attempts to make sense of things when you sleep. Which could be really handy during a complex angry argument! But if you do not get a good night’s sleep, it could make you more angry and argue more the following day.
By taking a break off your fight until you have both slept at least seven hours, you are providing yourselves a subconscious way to resolve whatever problem that caused your angry fight. It is very possible that you will wake up with a better understanding of your situation and a clearer picture of how to solve your problem. Not getting adequate sleep makes people feel negative emotions and respond badly to negative situations.
That is not helpful for conflict resolution.
Which means they may get irritated or angry at their significant other than they normally would if they were not that tired. So make sure your significant other knows that you are not ignoring them. You are simply calling a time out. It is important to you, and you have sincere plans in wanting to resolve your problem at a smarter time, and get the sleep you both desperately need!
Do not raise fragile subjects with your partner. Do not set your wake-up alarm before you go to sleep – it will simply trigger your mind into thinking the next day’s stresses. Instead, set your next morning’s alarm immediately after you wake up.
Keep a note pad close by. If you remember something you have to do the next day, write it down rather than typing on your phone. Do the very same for all essential ideas that pop up in your head when you are trying to sleep. When you have composed it down, you will discover it is much easier to let it go.
When we wake up from sleep, we feel different.
It is not just that time has passed, we have undergone a real chemical response. When we sleep, all the stress systems in our body are damped down, letting it relax, so that tenseness you felt, the sickness in your stomach, the frayed nerves, will all be gone in the morning. It is almost like we are different people when we wake up.
One particular neurochemical, called orexin, may hold the key to the puzzle. It is part of the stress response system. The orexin system is absolutely hardwired into the sympathetic nervous system. If everything is working normally, when you are faced with a stressful situation, your orexin system kicks in and triggers the stress responses that you expect: fight or flight.
While narcoleptics do sometimes just nod off randomly, strong emotions are, most often, connected to onset of sleep. It is counterintuitive, but it is true. For many narcoleptics, strong emotions associated with stress can cause a complete collapse.
In the meantime, sleep does not seem too bad.
The problem may still be there when you awake, but you will have a better understanding of it, and hopefully, a clear slate to handle it. Unfortunately, people sleep worse after fighting with their partner, suggesting that if you do not deal with the conflict, you may have a harder time getting a good night of sleep. To deal with angry conflict constructively, you should ideally discuss the issues in the best possible place at the best time.
Of course, you cannot always fight under optimal conditions, but you can become more aware of the outside factors that exacerbate angry conflict and then work to minimize those external factors. Your conflict may escalate unnecessarily if you are tired. So the next time you start to get angry over something little, take a minute to evaluate the situation.
If it is close to bed time, hit the pause button and return to the issue when you do not feel so rushed. And you may find after a good night of sleep, your problems do not feel so big anymore. Conventional relationship wisdom says couples should settle their disagreements before bed and never go to sleep still angry at each other, and while this advice is well-intentioned, in some cases, it can actually worsen the problem at hand.
Lack of sleep can greatly exacerbate conflict.
When couples are exhausted, they are more irritable and snippy. Going to bed mad can often mean that you wake up feeling okay, especially if the conflict was exacerbated or even entirely caused by two irritable, fatigued people sniping at one another. Also, the idea that going to bed angry is ‘bad’ leads to many couples staying up later than they should, trying to resolve fights and often failing, as they get more and more entrenched in their positions.
When you have a good night’s sleep, you can much more easily see your partner’s position and empathize, which means that making up is finally possible. If your anger has gotten the best of you, sleep may in fact be your best strategy for repair, especially if it is late. We are not in a good place to hash things out when we are angry and triggered and need time to process what is happening.
Anger provides useful information to us and is a signal that something needs to change. Specifically, you want to do this in a constructive way and not destructive yelling. It is up to you to determine what you need, and not your partner’s job to predict this after simply telling them you are upset.
Most arguments are about nothing at all.
Sleep also provides a mental filing of things experienced or learned throughout the day, so it is an even better time to allow for processing of these strong emotions. That is because we are usually arguing about how we are arguing. It is safe to say that people are rarely in their best brains late nights.
It really is okay ― in fact, sometimes it is better ― to go to bed angry. Picking your battles is an art form. See if you remember what you were angry about in the morning. The idea behind not going to bed angry makes sense. We do not want to dismiss important issues or ignore our partner’s concerns.
It is not healthy to let things go unsettled. We should not ignore a problem by falling asleep and pretending everything is fine the next day. Doing that will only build up resentment over time. However, sometimes it is okay, and can even be beneficial, to put an argument on pause and go to bed angry.
When we are tired, our brain does not function at its peak.
We cannot have a productive disagreement with a half-functioning brain. We are more emotional, have less self-control, and are not able to be as objective on a sleepy brain. Continuing an argument under these conditions will just make the argument worse.
Get some sleep and then have the discussion the next day. You will be more rational and will be able to see things from a better point-of-view than if you are tired. “Sleeping on it” can help put things into perspective and allow us to be more clearheaded than we were the night before.
We might even feel different about the argument after getting some sleep. If we insist on staying awake to work things out, we will not be thinking as clearly and may end up saying things we will later regret. It is very possible that we will wake up the next day with a better understanding of the situation, and even a solution.
Sleep can help us work through things.
An issue that felt impossible the night before might now have a clear solution. Working against the clock can add to stress. Any solution that we decide on is probably a temporary one, so we should just to go to bed. Staying awake until the fight is resolved will lead to exhaustion the following day, which can lead to more resentment.
Break the cycle. Go to bed. Emotions change with time. We all know and have experienced “in the heat of the moment”. Letting those heated emotions simmer down overnight can result in a much different outcome. It is funny how a situation that made us so angry the night before does not bother us as much the next day.
We may still feel strongly, but with less anger present a better outcome is sure to follow. Going to bed angry does not mean that we should dismiss our partner. Remember that you are a team and that communication is essential for a healthy relationship.
Ask to pause the argument.
Let your partner know that you want to hear his or her perspective and discuss the matter further when you are both well rested, less emotional, and are thinking straight. Get some rest and finish the discussion at a better time. It will lead to a more productive dialogue and a happier, more peaceful relationship in the long run.
Fighting late into the night is just disaster waiting to happen. If you do not go to bed angry, you would stay up arguing all night about some stupid thing that happened three years ago. Going to bed angry is actually great for your relationship because things usually look completely different in the morning.
When the alternative is a sleepless or nearly sleepless night, going to bed angry is actually best for most relationships. Sleepiness from staying up to argue can actually make things a whole lot worse. Take a break from the conversation and get some rest.
It is better for your health.
Difficulty sleeping interferes with higher cognitive functioning of the brain. This means you need sleep to pay attention, reason well, communicate kindly and effectively to solve problems. If you are so sleepy that you cannot solve problems, then how are you going to resolve an argument? Yeah, you are not.
Chronic sleep loss dramatically impacts your health. If you are regularly arguing instead of sleeping, it will add up. Who knows, the next time one of you says, “You’re killing me” during a late night argument, you might actually be right!
To solve a problem in a positive way, you need rest to refresh your outlook and perspective. Staying up late fighting just drains you both and results in negative thinking and a depressed outlook. “We should just break up” at night turns back to “We can work this out” in the morning.
Angry sleepless nights are not your friend.
It is almost impossible to feel great and excited about the day, your life, or your relationship when you have missed a lot of sleep the night before because of some ridiculous argument. Dysfunctional pathway explains the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption, and memory loss. Now, this forgetfulness could really go either way toward helping or hurting your argumentative ways.
Staying up late fighting contributes to you going off track and fighting about all sorts of issues, instead of the one truly at hand. You get too sleepy and forget your real point. Catch some sleep and address the issue in the morning when your mind is sharp and you can stay focused on the real conversation.
Lack of sleep can affect your interpretations of events. This hurts your ability to make sound judgments because you may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely. The longer you stay up arguing, the worse the argument will probably get because you start to get cranky and lash out saying anything to make the fight end instead of truly resolving the issue.
So, go to bed already.
Commit to revisiting the conversation again the next day once you are rested and regain a little perspective. Now, doesn’t that feel better? Gritting through a fight at all costs has its own consequences, and sometimes the only solution is to pass out and start again.
It also helps if we set a specific time to resume the conversation. When you are unable to resolve a conflict in the moment, either through circumstances or stalemate, remember that you are ultimately on the same team. Reminding yourselves that you want is what is best for each other and for the relationship will put the conflict in perspective and help you function together as a couple even when you feel distant or divided.
In a committed relationship, remember that you are in it for the long haul. You can forgive tomorrow what you cannot today. You can argue tomorrow if you cannot today. And you can love better tomorrow, even if it is difficult today.
Read also: 14 Ways To Become A Better Self
Visit us at: JiggaBOOM!’s homepage for more stories
Subscribe to: JiggaBOOM! by Email