Whenever I sleep, either at night or during a day nap, I hate it when my sleep is interrupted. It irritates me and makes me hard to fall asleep again.
So I always make it sure that when I sleep, nobody will disturb me.
For years I wonder if other people also experience irritability when their sleep is interrupted. In my family, I am the only person who has this response to incomplete sleep.
Finally, I found the answer. Recently, a new study that was published in journal Sleep, found that an interrupted sleep is indeed detrimental to emotions.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Patrick Finan found that more interrupted sleep has stronger negative effects on mood than less uninterrupted sleep.
On the other hand, uninterrupted sleep is instrumental in achieving positive emotions such as sympathy and friendliness.
The experiment involved three groups of participants. During the study, the groups were assigned to three different conditions.
One group were deliberately awakened throughout the night.
The other group was instructed to have delayed sleep schedule.
The last group was allowed to sleep at normal duration.
The participants were observed and understudy for three straight nights in a laboratory.
Every day, the researchers assessed the participant’s mood. After the second day, the researchers started to notice participants diverge mood.
The participants whose sleep was interrupted decreased positive mood by 31%. While the participants whose sleep schedule was delayed experienced 12% less positive mood. And the participants who were allowed to sleep normally experienced a boost in mood and energy.
Dr. Patrick Finan concluded:
“When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration.”
A slow-wave sleep is necessary for the brain to refresh itself. It is also thought that, during sleep, the brain sweeps all the remaining chemical being used during the awake stage. So a lack of sleep hinders the brain to do the housekeeping routine.
The purpose of the previous study, however, was not to look at the biological effect of interrupted sleep in the brain. Thus, it is not clear how interrupted sleep affects the neurological functioning of the brain.
Nonetheless, the finding gives us valuable information on how interrupted sleep affects emotional state.
So next time you feel irritated during the day without apparent reason, you may have a good answer.