When you haven’t slept much do you feel like you have a difficult time keeping a level head?
You’re not imagining it.
Scientists have found that if you’re not getting enough Z’s at night, you could be more emotional than those who get a full night of sleep.
‘We know that sleep affects our emotional behavior, but we don’t know how,’ Talma Hendler of Tel Aviv University in Israel said.
She and her colleagues studied the effects of little sleep on 18 adults, the New Scientist reported.
Subjects first had brain scans after having a good night’s sleep. Then they had the same scan after staying awake for 24 hours.
When the test subjects were well rested, they were able to follow a dot floating in front of a photo, telling researchers the direction of the movement. Some of the photos were neutral, while others were either positively or negatively emotional.
When the subjects were exhausted, they were not able to relay the dot’s movement, whether the photo was emotional or neutral.
Hendler said the result may show that lack of sleep impairs judgment, but it also might mean something more subtle: No sleep could cause an emotional response to neutral images, the New Scientist reported.
The team did a similar experiment while subjects were hooked up to a scanner, which measured activity in the brain.
When volunteers were tired, the part of the brain that controls emotion showed more activity when compared to those who had gotten enough sleep.
Hendler said her study found that the lack of sleep makes people ‘lose neutrality.’
‘The ability of the brain to tell what’s important is compromised. It’s as if everything is important,’ Hendler said.