Why You Shouldn’t Go To Bed Angry

People should try to resolve any arguments before going to bed and not sleep on their anger.

Since sleep helps people process information from the day and store it in the memory (solidifying memories during sleep): So, going to bed angry makes it harder to suppress the negative memories, which one may never wish to recall.
Sleep sticks memories to the brain, and thus, it will be very hard to suppress the negative thoughts one could have easily manage before sleep.

The new findings published in the journal Nature Communications confirm that sleeping after making a fresh bad memory, can give that memory more strength.

In a study led by Yunzhe Liu, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience at University College London; 73 men were asked to look at 26 neutral photos of people’s faces. Each of these these neutral photos was paired with an upsetting image, such as photo of corpses, crying children and injured people.

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Also on the same day, participants were 9 percent less likely to recall the upsetting image associated with each face, when only the photos of faces were given.

On the following day, after a night’s sleep,the researchers repeated the memory-suppression task,and found out that the participants had more trouble forgetting the upsetting images that had been paired with the faces: they were just 3 percent less likely to recall the upsetting images compared with other, baseline images that the researchers has shown them earlier on during the study to test their memory performance.

This study suggests that there is certain merit in this age-old advice: ‘Do not go to bed angry,’ says Yunzhe. We would suggest to first resolve (the) argument before… bed.

According to the authors, the study may lead to a better understanding of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.


Yunzhe Liu et al. Memory consolidation reconfigures neural pathways involved in the suppression of emotional memories: Nature Communications 7, Article number: 13375 (2016)

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