We’ve talked in other posts about sleep and emotional well-being. It’s well established that sleep problems contribute to depression, anxiety, anger, poor ability to read other’s emotions, among other contributions to emotional well-being. We also know that REM sleep in particular consolidates memories. Bring these two areas together, and now new research is showing that sleep right after a negative experience ‘fixes’ that memory and emotion in your mind.
The new study, reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, had people look at disturbing photographs then rate arousal (calm/excited) and emotional response (happy/sad). After 12 hours, the participants saw a mix of the same photos with some new ones. The photos were rated again, and categorized as old or new. Some people first saw the photos in the evening so they slept between viewings, and others saw the photos in the morning and again in the evening after their regular daytime activities.
The big difference between how the photos were remembered was whether the person had slept between viewings. Those who had slept reported similar negativity and emotional charge, while those who had stayed awake rated the pictures as more neutral. There was also a trend for those who had the most REM sleep to have the least amount of change in negativity and emotional charge.
So what does this mean for us? First off, probably none of us should be watching the scary 10 o’clock news. Going to sleep right afterward is going to help us remember anything upseting, and also lock in those negative emotions. We also want to have that hour of quiet wind-down before sleep that we’ve talked about before. And forget discussing any bad news or addressing any conflicts with our spouse during that time, unless we want the bad feelings to linger in the morning. These are all things we knew to avoid on some level before, but now science is backing up common sense.
With a new child in the family, sleep becomes a major issue, both for babies and for parents! If you are one of the many parents who need more good information about sleep, this is the perfect class for you.
In this interactive class you will learn:
– about normal sleep and naps in infants and toddlers up to 3 years
– how sleep impacts babies’ development and growth
– the strategies to help your child learn to sleep on his / her own, from ‘cry it out’ to the ‘no cry sleep solution’ and everything in between
– how to set your lifestyle, and bedroom, for good sleep
– how parents can still get the sleep they need despite parenting in the night
Most importantly, each family will develop their own custom sleep plan over the course of the class, a plan they will benefit from immediately.
Here are the details:
Instructor: Dr. Catherine Darley, naturopathic sleep specialist
Two Dates: Friday June 17th or Saturday June 18th, 10a to 1p
Location: 1904 3rd Ave, Seattle WA, 98101, 2rd floor
(next to Bed, Bath & Beyond in downtown Seattle)
So, what has to happen to have a good social life? People need to think you are somewhat attractive, you need to be able to read others’ emotions, and you need to be a pretty good person.
All these aspects of a good social life are impacted negatively if you don’t sleep well. Research this last year has shown that when people are sleep deprived they:
A) are considered less attractive than when they are well rested
B) are less able to discern happy and angry emotions from anothers’ facial expression
C) are more likely to put their own interests above others when making moral or ethical decisions.
So, we already knew the many ways poor sleep or sleep deprivation impacts our physical health and performance. Now we’re starting to learn how our social abilities are impacted too.
My next thought is about the high number of children who are sleep deprived (80% of highschool students). Since this is a time when they are learning social skills, what is the long-term impact of being sleep deprived at this critical time?
So, we’ve known for a long time that there’s a connection between sleep disturbance and mental health, particularly depression.
There’s been some research published this year looking at the connection between teens’ bedtime and mental health. Because depression may affect a student’s chosen bedtime, this study looked at parentally set bedtimes. Students’ were divided into two groups – bedtime 10pm or before, and bedtime midnight or later.
The teens with the later set bedtime of midnight or after were 24% more likely to be depressed and 20% more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The students with depression and suicidal thoughts had a sleep duration of 7 hr 23 mins compared to the other adolescents with an average of 7 hr 55 mins sleep nightly. Note for all groups this is at least an hour less than the recommended sleep for teens – 9 hours of more.
The authors conclude that an earlier parentally set bedtime may be protective against depression and suicidal thoughts in teens since it provides a longer sleep duration. Something to think about for all parents and people working with kids.
Baby’s are born sleeping all hours of the day, and being awake in the night. This just doesn’t fit well with adult sleep-wake patterns, and is one of the reasons that new parenthood can be so challenging.
A new research study just published this year helped establish a predictable nightly bedtime routine for babies (7-18 months old) and toddlers (18-36 months old). The children soon fell asleep more quickly, and had fewer night awakenings. Then they looked at the mother’s mood after the baby had been on the routine for just 3 weeks. Mothers had significant reduction in tension, anger, fatigue and confusion. The mothers of babies were also significantly less depressed.
All these positive effects came from having a nightly bedtime routine. In the next few weeks we’ll talk more about how to establish a healthy sleep routine for your baby. And for those in Seattle, I’ll be giving a presentation on this topic on January 26th. More details at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net.