15th July 2020 by Dr Manvir Bhatia & Saunri
What are the kinds of emotions going through your mind during the current coronavirus pandemic situation? Do you feel stressed when you see the number of COVID-19 cases rising every day? Do you feel anxious about your business losses? Do you feel unhappy that you must stay at home all day? Stress, anxiety, unhappiness are examples of negative emotions. Negative emotions have a negative impact on your health. Stress and anxiety also disturb sleep.
The Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) help in regulating emotions.
Our brains can control and regulate our emotions. The amygdala in the brain and other interconnected regions regulate the integration of emotions and emotional behavior. The amygdala has connections with the prefrontal cortex, which facilitates the relay of information. The PFC can suppress impulses. When we receive emotional input, the amygdala can make us act irrationally. However, activity in the pre-frontal cortex, allows us to processes the information, process our emotional reaction to the information, and bring about a more rational response.
During REM sleep, there is an increased activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. The connections between the amygdala and the PFC are strengthened during REM sleep. Sleep deprivation reduces the top-down control of the PFC on the amygdala. Hence, good sleep is necessary for better regulation of our emotions.
Sleep Loss and Deprivation has a negative impact on emotional regulation
- Sleep loss disrupts our perception of the emotions around us.
- Sleep deprivation inhibits our brain’s ability to process emotions.
- Sleep deprivation leads to fragmented loss of memory. Not being able to remember everyday things due to fragmented loss of memory can further increase your stress and stress can make it difficult to sleep.
There is a bi-directional relationship between emotions and sleep
Stress and anxiety can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, by making your body alert and hyper-aroused. Chronic stress alters the circuit between the amygdala and the PFC. Sleep deprivation also leads to rumination which can cause impaired sleep onset. In addition, not being able to fall asleep, or facing sleep issues can in turn increase your stress, like a vicious cycle. Thus, emotions and sleep have a bi-directional relationship. The importance of sleep in regulating our emotions and to preserve emotional health cannot be overemphasized. You can have a good sleep or improve your sleep by meditating, exercising, and maintaining good sleep hygiene.
To seek help or know more you can visit the Neurology and Sleep Centre, the 1st sleep centre in the country accredited by Indian Board of Sleep Medicine at L-23, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi, Delhi-110016 (INDIA)
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