When the participants were well-rested, researchers saw strong reactions in the parts of the brain that process and regulate emotions when they were shown the negative images, and when they were shown the neutral images, there was no emotional response. But after being awake for 24 hours, the people had strong reactions to both the negative and neutral images, suggesting the lack of sleep reduced the brain’s threshold for emotional reactions.
Ultimately, the authors of the study said missing out on a night’s sleep could cause people to overreact when dealing with everyday challenges and that there could be a connection between sleep deprivation and anxiety disorders. In other words, calm the hell down and get some rest, guys.
“Studies have shown that losing emotional neutrality is a hallmark symptom of anxiety disorders,” Eti Ben-Simon and Talma Hendler, the study’s main authors, said in a press release. “These findings support a long-standing observation in sleep research that demonstrates how people become increasingly anxious without sleep.”