You’ve undoubtedly heard the old expression, “You should never go to bed angry.” It’s meant to encourage people to work out their problems immediately rather than letting them simmer. But what if that old expression is just plain wrong?
It turns out there are lots of reasons going to bed angry could actually benefit you in the long run. Here’s why.
You and your significant other have been fighting for two hours. You’re both getting cranky and sensitive. You’re also tired. Suddenly, you say something you instantly regret, because you’re so drained you don’t have your usual filter going. You can’t take back that slip, and you know you crossed a line.
If you’d simply gone to bed when you got tired, rather than trying to stay awake and work out the problem, you never would have blurted out those hurtful words. Instead, you would have suspended your fight and resumed in the morning when you’d had a chance to cool off.
The longer you stay awake, the less in control you are of your thoughts and emotions. Going to bed while you’re still angry can be a means of self-preservation. Instead of saying things you’d usually never admit to, you can sleep on it and look at the situation with fresh eyes in the morning, when your self control has returned.
You’re so angry you can’t see straight, but you can’t seem to figure out a solution to the problem. Turns out getting some shut-eye could actually help you resolve the issue. Our brains don’t just turn off when we go to sleep — they’re working through the problems that concerned us when we were awake. That’s why you often dream about your problems. Your brain is feeding you creative solutions and trying to help.
Sometimes, you just need a refresh button. If you’re angry with someone and you’ve been fighting with for a long time, it won’t matter what either of you say. You’re both just carrying your anger around at this point. Getting at least seven hours of sleep can help you feel more objective. You may not agree with the point your spouse or friend is trying to make, but perhaps you won’t be quite as angry about it.
Perspective can be a valuable thing in a fight. If you’re just focusing on how angry you are, you’re not actually trying to solve the problem at hand, and you’ll continue to be angry indefinitely. When you go to bed and wake up the next morning without diving right back into the fight, you may see another side of the issue that hadn’t occurred to you amidst your anger.
When someone tells you, “Don’t go to bed angry,” tell them you no longer believe that old trope. In many cases, going to bed when you’re mad can help you solve the situation.