Never go to bed angry? Try never fighting when you’re tired. It’s officially time to retire that old relationship advice about never letting the sun set on your anger, according to a new study published in the journal Science.
I don’t know about you, but my favorite time to have a deep heart-to-heart discussion with my honey is late at night. Something about the clock chiming 10 p.m. makes me get extra chatty and, if I’m being honest, extra emotional. My husband, however, is not a fan of this arrangement and would much rather get some sleep and then talk it over in the morning. Except by the time morning comes, I’m usually over whatever it was I was so worked up about the night before. Funny how that works!
When it comes to the ideal situation for arguing, the researchers say my husband is right. (He’ll be thrilled to know that.) We get stupid when we’re sleepy and that’s a scientific fact.
Researchers deprived 33 adults of sleep for two straight days and monitored their brains both during their awake time and when they finally got to sleep. They found that brain function didn’t decline directly with sleep loss, but rather some parts of the subjects’ brains got tired at different times of the day.
For example, memory and self-control stayed pretty good during the daytime hours, but reaction time and attention span suffered, slowly improving as it got later in the day. Despite the minor blips, however, overall they found that people did reasonably well during the traditional daytime hours, even when running on zero sleep.
But when sleeping hours hit, all hell broke lose.
The subjects’ brain function “deteriorated sharply” come nighttime and with emotional control and reason short-circuiting. Add this to the drop in memory and self-control and you’ve got the perfect recipe for one massive fight.
The takeaway message? Don’t fight at night!