Sleep - The Silent Manager of Emotional Well-being

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

An enormous volume of scientific data shows that inadequate sleep affects physical and mental health and increases the subsequent risks of injuries and accidents, threatening the safety in as well as outside the workplace and costing individuals, businesses and the whole society much more than it seems at first glance.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that in 2018, only 10% of Americans prioritized sleep over other aspects of daily life, such as work, fitness, and hobbies. The 2019 Sleep in America Poll indicates that sleep deprivation primarily impacts physical health, followed by deteriorated mental health through adverse emotional effects of restricted sleep, and consequently, affects productivity levels.

A lack of sleep interferes with cognitive functions such as the ability to learn and remember, stay alert, focused and engaged, respond quickly, and solve problems efficiently. While many people skimp on shut-eye in the hope of achieving more, there is no such thing as cheating your mental health of sleep. When you try to cut corners on your nighttime rest, your emotions get thrown out of balance, your mood and energy levels drop, and you are unable to communicate effectively, creatively tackle issues, and adequately handle stress. Thus, the present global labor market values not just how much you know, but how you manage and what you do with your feelings too.

Emotional intelligence

Over the last few years, emotional intelligence has been a topic of great interest among the academic and scientific elite because the previous research led to the conclusion that IQ was not the sole factor of academic and career success, harmonious relationships, and abundant health. The more the researchers studied the brain, the more obvious was the impact that emotions have on every area of an individual's life.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the capacity to perceive emotions, analyze them, control them, and use them in constructive ways to successfully deal with everyday challenges and maintain good relationships.

Individuals with high EQ are skilled problem-solvers because they are able to employ their emotions to facilitate thinking. They use their feelings to self-motivate and self-regulate, and therefore are a great asset to any circle and every community. These people are socially adept because they are aware of their own emotional needs as well as the needs of others. They use emotional awareness to promote creative thinking, mitigate conflicts, and build and enhance relationships. They face obstacles with confidence and successfully cope with difficulties.

Emotions can be either helpful or harmful, so the ability to navigate them to your advantage will ultimately determine whether you grow or shrink, enjoy prosperity or struggle with scarcity, wander through life or boldly strive toward things that matter to you.

Sleep keeps your emotions in check

Sleep deprivation harms relationships and communication because it reduces feelings of self-regard, self-actualization, and a sense of independence. These qualities are essential for interpersonal relationships because they bring emotional balance by providing healthy self-esteem and self-confidence necessary to express one’s needs and respect the ones of others. People who cut back on their sleep are less assertive and empathetic towards others. They are less insightful, thoughtful, and patient.

A lack of sleep interferes with productivity by boosting intolerance to delayed gratification and reducing impulse control. These traits are critical for attaining goals because they directly impact focus and influence the level of determination when working on a particular task or towards a specific objective. Sleep loss affects the ability to think positively by decreasing feelings of optimism and increasing feelings of superstition.

The study carried out by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research found that sleep restriction impairs the ability to make proper moral judgment and prolongs response time when deciding upon a course of action. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain in charge of making moral judgments, is significantly vulnerable to sleep loss. The results reveal that if you don’t get enough hours of shut-eye per night, it will take you longer to make a decision when faced with a moral dilemma and once you do, there is a high probability that a lack of sleep will compromise the quality of the choice you made.

Besides the moral compass, sleep deprivation hampers intuition, too. “A gut feeling,” alongside reasoning, plays a major role in decision making toward or away from a particular direction.

The quality of sleep is critical for emotion management and performance. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research looked at the correlation between subjective fatigue and emotional intelligence in university students. Poor sleep affected both emotional stability and subjective feeling of weariness. The results suggest that cutting back on rest contributes to feelings of depression, anxiety, and diminished control over situations. The students who felt exhausted felt they lacked social support and were less optimistic.

Another study published in Consulting Psychology Journal Practice and Research looked at the relationship between leadership skills and self-reported quantity and quality of sleep. It found that inadequate rest hurts interpersonal effectiveness and performance by reducing the social and emotional capability of sleep-deprived executives and managers.

The researchers at The University of California, Berkeley found that insufficient sleep affects the ability to decode facial expressions. When you miss out on rest, your brain misreads the emotional sings visible on the face. The impairment can result in dangerous outcomes such as a failure to notice that someone needs your help or that you are facing peril. “Consider the implications for students pulling all-nighters, emergency-room medical staff, military fighters in war zones and police officers on graveyard shifts,” said study lead author Andrea Goldstein-Piekarski.

“Dream sleep (REM sleep) appears to reset the magnetic north of our emotional compass,” added Dr. Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley. “One question is whether we can now enhance the quality of dream sleep, and in doing so, improve emotional intelligence.”

Author: Mia Ca

Law major

Fitness lover



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