Last Updated on October 1, 2023 by Louise Carter
Ever heard the saying, “Never go to bed angry?”
Science confirms this is good advice because it’s hard to sleep after a heated argument, and going to bed when annoyed preserves negative thoughts in your long-term memory.
Don’t vent before bedtime if you’re angry about something or with someone.
Distract yourself from the annoyance by taking an evening walk, reading a book, thinking about happier times, or deep breathing. Think over the situation and talk things through the next day.
Our brains ponder over negative circumstances and worst-case scenarios at night.
Whether you’re furious at a partner, have anxiety, or are stressed about being unable to fall asleep, negative emotions stimulate chemical reactions in the brain and physical changes that ramp up the body.
How To Fall Asleep When Angry
Since external factors and our thoughts trigger anger, we can change our mindset to get better sleep.
In addition to identifying the cause of anger and resolving issues with a partner, there are ways to calm your mind and drift off to sleep. This can be achieved by doing the following:
Identify What’s Worrying you
You’ll find it difficult to fall asleep when anxious because your mind will be focused on other stressors.
A lack of sleep can make you irritable, lethargic, and tired. This can cause even the smallest issue to annoy you further, creating a vicious cycle.
Identify what’s causing you to feel angry before bedtime and deal with it before getting under the covers.
Worrying about things you usually don’t think about before bed is common. However, this isn’t the best time to think through annoying problems.
Resolve Disagreements The Next Day
The best way to avoid going to bed angry after a fight is to avoid bringing up annoying issues at bedtime.
If you know an issue will escalate into a fight, it can wait until the next day, when you can approach it with a clearer mind. However, if it comes up anyway, consider agreeing to discuss issues during the day so you can sleep more soundly through the night.
You may feel that if you wait longer and don’t talk about it now, you’ll never be able to resolve it. At this point, it helps to understand the difference between an issue and an emergency.
Bringing up a problem at night will jeopardize your sleep, leaving you feeling tired the next day.
Decide on a time to talk with your partner, as this shows your commitment to resolving the issue, resulting in a more positive response the next day.
Don’t Worry About Not Sleeping
Individuals who face bedtime with dread and stare at their clocks until they have to get up begin developing negative emotions like frustration, anger, anxiety, and fear of going to sleep.
Stimulus-control therapy can discontinue these associations so that you link your bed to sleep.
Doctors who recommend this technique suggest approaches such as not keeping a clock in the bedroom, keeping your phone on the dresser, and not lying in bed when unable to sleep.
Instead of stressing over how horrible your day will be due to your poor sleep and lack of rest, understand that your exhaustion may enable you to sleep better the next night.
If you struggle to fall asleep, learn to accept it and find the next solution instead of getting worked up.
After all, you’re in a quiet, comfortable place where nobody calls, emails, or texts you, your children are fast asleep, and you don’t have a list of house chores.
You have the whole night to relax in the dark with your thoughts. The reality is that most people fear not sleeping, which is irrational because everyone sleeps at some point.
You’re angry at something that happened during the day, and now your mind is in overdrive, preventing you from falling asleep. Understand that anger requires energy, and energy won’t help you drift off.
Try to catch yourself in the act when ruminating over negative thoughts and distract yourself with positive and relaxing thoughts and images.
Instead of considering a recent interaction with your boss, consider your favorite vacation with your family or plan one for the future. Come up with things you dream of doing.
This could involve spending an entire day at the beach in a hammock with a good book or watching your kids play. Visualize various sensations, like the sun’s warmth on your skin.
This includes the cool breeze, smell of the ocean, sound of the ocean waves, and saltiness of the sea.
Anger stimulates a fight-or-flight response, leaving you feeling jittery, revved up, and wide awake.
Stress causes your breathing to become shallower, limiting the oxygen supply to your brain and other organs. Perform a relaxation technique called diaphragmatic breathing to reduce the effects of anger.
A study in Frontiers in Psychology that analyzed the effects of diaphragmatic breathing among 40 healthy participants from an IT company in Beijing found that the practice may improve cognitive performance and the physiological effects of stress in healthy adults.
Diaphragmatic breathing can be used when you’re mad at your wife or husband and can’t sleep, or your brain goes a mile a minute, keeping you from drifting off.
To perform diaphragmatic breathing, breathe slowly and deeply to a count of 4 and exhale slowly to another count of 4. Notice your stomach rising as you breathe in and recoiling as you exhale.
Perform this exercise for as long as needed before bed and after getting up to increase your positive energy and calmness. With practice, this exercise can calm you down and avoid racing thoughts.
Late Evening Walk
Walking is a great way to review everything you’ve accomplished during the day. It stops you from reaching for a nightcap or staring at your phone, interfering with your sleep.
Getting caught up in stressful, negative thoughts and emotions can happen, so going for a walk frees you from all that negative self-dialogue, impairing your mood, productivity, and sleep.
Don’t just go for a walk for the sake of distraction. Use this to reflect on anything positive during the day or week so you’re more grateful.
Walking boosts creativity and problem-solving. This will help you visualize tomorrow’s victories better and develop ways to resolve any issues with your partner, coworker, or family member.
A light workout before bedtime can increase serotonin and dopamine levels, making you feel happier and more invigorated. This can help with an upcoming talk with your partner or about projects at work.
Scent of Lavender Oil
Essential oils have many benefits, from alleviating anxiety to strengthening the immune system. In aromatherapy, essential oils like lavender can induce sleep and relaxation.
The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research studied the effects of lavender essential oil on 31 participants. Researchers found that lavender essential oil elevated the frequency of slow and deep-wave sleep in volunteers, with all participants reporting feeling vigor upon waking the next morning.
Another essential oil for promoting deep sleep is clary sage oil. According to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, using clary sage oil in an essential oil diffuser assisted participants undergoing a urodynamic examination to calm down faster.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
Essential oils can be applied to the feet, wrists, palms, and soles.
Before applying an essential oil to the skin, dilute it with a carrier oil, like almond, olive, jojoba, or coconut oil. Using undiluted essential oils topically may cause skin irritation.
You’ll need 1 tablespoon of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil. When choosing carrier oils, pick something that doesn’t have a strong scent that’ll mask the aroma of the essential oil.
Alternatively, add 2-3 drops of lavender, clary sage, or another relaxing essential oil to the diffuser because this will release the essential oil’s relaxing aroma into your room.
If you don’t want a diffuser to run through the night, add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your pillowcase before bedtime.
Don’t Drink Alcohol
Anyone who consumes alcohol at night knows it can make you sleepy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20% of Americans use alcohol as a sleep aid. You may think that 1 to 2 glasses of wine after a fight will calm you, but it can leave you unsettled during sleep.
Alcohol is a depressant, which makes you feel drowsy, but it also leads to poor quality sleep later in the night as the body tries to process it.
Here are some effects of alcohol that occur during sleep:
Drinking alcohol before bed may increase your slow-wave sleep patterns (delta activity). This is a type of deep sleep responsible for learning and memory.
At the same time, alcohol turns on another type of brain pattern called alpha activity. This isn’t normally switched on during sleep but occurs when you’re relaxing quietly.
While this may sound positive, delta and alpha activity after drinking may interfere with restorative sleep. You won’t experience the effects of these changes in brain patterns during sleep.
Any interruption to your sleep patterns can leave you feeling lethargic the next morning.
Natural Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm (biological clock or sleep-wake cycle) is a natural, internal system designed to regulate feelings of wakefulness and sleepiness over 24 hours.
Drinking before bedtime helps you fall asleep sooner but leads to frequent awakenings. The chances are you won’t remember waking up, but it can leave you feeling foggy and lethargic when you wake up.
Alcohol interferes with the production of melatonin and other chemicals responsible for stimulating sleepiness, and these chemicals subside after your body receives enough sleep.
Drinking can cause them to curb faster than they should. Alcohol triggers the production of adenosine, a sleep-enhancing chemical in the brain, which explains the rapid onset of sleep.
Unfortunately, because the chemical diminishes quickly, it can cause you to wake up before your body has received enough rest.
The biological clock rests when it’s time to sleep, avoiding frequent trips to the bathroom. This explains why we can go on for 6-8 hours without using the bathroom.
The human body evolved to put the bladder into hibernation throughout the night.
Since alcohol is a diuretic, it can increase your need to urinate more, interrupting your natural sleep pattern. These frequent awakenings throughout the night reduce the effects of refreshing, restorative sleep, leaving you feeling sluggish and craving more sleep when you wake up.
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is vital to sleep.
A lack of REM sleep is linked to reduced creativity, focus, and problem-solving skills and increased feelings of exhaustion and mental fog during the day.
If you have a snoring issue or sleep apnea, alcohol can make things worse.
Alcohol causes the entire body to relax, which includes the muscles in your throat. This allows the throat muscles and tongue to collapse in your sleep, thus aggravating snoring and sleep apnea.
Nobody reaches for a salad when they’re mad. On the contrary, they opt for high-fat, high-sugar, and refined carb-loaded foods that comfort them.
Anger prompts your fight-or-flight response, which makes your body feel in danger. This causes the body to enter emergency mode, where your digestive tract doesn’t function normally.
Not only will your poor food choices before bedtime contribute to weight gain, but they may lead to acid reflux, diarrhea, or constipation, leaving you feeling uncomfortable throughout the night.
Distract yourself by going for a walk or reading a book. After 20 minutes, if you still feel hungry, opt for a healthy snack such as a handful of blueberries or baby carrots.
If you can’t sleep after a fight with your partner, getting anger off your chest may sound like an effective plan, but it can exacerbate the situation.
According to Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, people who spend 5 minutes reading another person’s online rants become angrier, indicating that venting doesn’t help anyone.
Venting aggressively, like punching a pillow, won’t work. Not only do such actions increase your anger during that moment, but they also increase the likelihood of behaving aggressively in the future.
The same applies to heated emails or social media posts. You can’t take back a rant after you’ve delivered it to the internet. If you can’t resist writing down your thoughts, consider jotting them down.
Instead, write positive thoughts in a journal, like things you’re grateful for and actions you would have performed differently. Journal writing puts things into perspective and leaves you feeling calmer.