You Should Never Go To Bed Angry, Science Confirms
There are a few key life lessons we all hear time and time again: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," "Treat others the way you want to be treated" and "Never go to bed angry."
Well, according to science, that last one is accurate.
A study published in Nature Communications confirms it is more detrimental not to resolve a fight before sleep than it is to ignore the fight, try to catch some extra Z's and deal with it later.
This is due to the way our brains categorize memory, especially when we're sleeping.
While we're snoozing, our brains work on organizing our experiences and placing them into our short and long-term memory, as well as linking old and new memories.
In the study, Yunzhe Liu, lead author of the study at Beijing Normal University and a student in neuroscience at University College London, says they worked with 73 English male students on an exercise she called "think/no-think."
Before going to sleep, the men were shown a picture of person's face showing a neutral expression. Each face was then associated with a negative or upsetting image (dead bodies, crying children etc.).
The men were first asked to associate these faces with these negative images, and then after some time, they were given the images again and told to "forget" the previous negative association.
Before bed, their brain activity demonstrated they were 9 percent less likely to remember the upsetting images compared with the neutral images.
However, when this test was performed a second time after the participants had a full night's rest, their brain activity showed they were 3 percent less likely to remember the negative images, proving sleep made it easier to remember the pain.
For relationships, this means if there is an argument right before sleep, our brains are more likely to dump that experience into our long-term memory zones while we're knocked out, causing the fight to hold a lasting impression on us.
Therefore, it is much easier to move past something before hitting the hay than after, as you have resolved that experience before your brain has a chance to hang onto it.
To further clarify this, the authors explained, "For example, sleep deprivation immediately after traumatic experiences may prevent traumatic memories from being consolidated... and thus provide the opportunity to block the formation of traumatic memories."
Lui did note this statement may not be immediately applicable, as traumatic experiences are much harder to forget in general.
The lesson? Take the extra time to figure your shit out with bae. It will be worth it in the long run, allowing you to clear negative experiences before they make lasting impressions on your relationship and provide you with a more peaceful morning on the other side.