Disrupted sleep leads to negative moods

disrupted sleep man holding crying babyIf anyone has had a newborn in the house, they know that repeated night awakenings are tough. Now research from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore shows just how tough.

The study, the Effects of Sleep Continuity Disruption on Positive Mood, published in the journal Sleep (paywall), examined three types of sleep conditions on 62 men and women. Participants were subjected to either forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes or uninterrupted sleep for three nights. Researchers then measured participants’ positive and negative emotions.

On the first night after a delayed bedtime or eight forced awakenings, study participants showed similar low positive moods and high negative moods. On the second night, differences between the groups grew stronger: The group with forced awakenings had a 31% drop in positive mood, while the delayed bedtime group had a 12% decline.

Researchers noted that sleep fragmentation was more detrimental to positive mood than increasing negative mood, according to a news release from the university.

In looking at the sleep stages of all the groups, researchers found that those who were woken throughout the night had shorter periods of deep, slow-wave sleep, which related to a reduction in positive mood, lower energy levels and muted feelings of sympathy and friendliness, the release notes.

“When your sleep is interrupted 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,” says Patrick Finan, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

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