“Never Go to Bed Angry:” The Pros and Cons of This Practice

African-american couple ignoring each other in bed

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If you’ve had an argument with a loved one, a friend or family member may nudge you to sort it out sooner rather than later. “Never go to bed angry” is advice you’re likely to hear while they’re persuading you to reach out to the person you’ve argued with.

There is a belief that taking your anger to bed allows it to intensify and build from a simple conflict to a significant rupture, says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University.

You’ve probably wondered whether you should follow the “Never go to bed angry” rule and how this practice affects your mental health. This article explores the psychological implications of this practice and discusses whether you should follow it.

Benefits of This Practice

There may be some truth behind this advice. Below, Dr. Romanoff outlines the benefits of practicing the “Never go to bed angry” rule.

Anger Can Be Exhausting

Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

Being angry or holding a grudge can be exhausting. Finding a way to achieve forgiveness or resolution around the situation prompting your anger can help neutralize the situation and preserve your energy.

— Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD

If you resolve your differences with the person you’re arguing with, you can direct your energy toward reconciling with them instead. This can help you reconnect with them and feel close to them again.

Anger Can Build Overnight

Angry emotions tend to linger more at night than during the day, when you can be distracted and busy yourself with other tasks. Taking your anger to bed can cause you to dwell on the situation and make it into a much bigger issue, which can cause you to feel worse and drag the problem into the next day.

This is especially true in the case of people who struggle to manage negative emotions. They tend to catastrophize and go down a dark hole with their anger. Having hours to think about their frustration while sitting awake in bed at night can be problematic because it can cause them to pour gasoline on an already rampant fire.

Additionally, a 2016 study notes that sleeping on an issue overnight changes the way your brain organizes it in your memory, making it harder to reverse negative associations and memories. Nipping your anger in the bud early can prevent a buildup of negativity.

Anger Can Disrupt Your Sleep

Being angry at night can disrupt your sleep. It can make it hard for you to fall asleep, lead to poor sleep quality, and make you more prone to nightmares.

It’s important to remember that anger isn’t helping you or making you ‘win’ in a given situation. In the end, your anger does far more harm to you than to the other person, robbing you of your peace and sleep.

Drawbacks of This Practice

However, Dr. Romanoff says there are also some exceptions to the rule as there are in fact situations where it may be better to take some time before you approach the person you’re angry with. She outlines some of these scenarios below.

Anger Can Cause You to React Impulsively

Sometimes people can be impulsive when they’re angry. This includes saying things they don’t mean and being hurtful to the other person. Taking space and committing to revisiting the situation at a later time when your anger levels have reduced can be productive in some situations.

The intensity of your emotions may reduce with time and not acting impulsively in the moment can allow you to respond more effectively once your anger has subsided. This can give you time to process your emotions, think about the situation more deeply, and see if your emotional reaction or position on the situation changes with time.

Anger Is Not Something to Avoid

It is important to note that anger can be a natural response—often a valid one—to a difficult situation. It is a valuable emotion that you must give yourself and the people around you permission to feel; it is not something to avoid.

It is fine to feel angry and you don’t need to feel pressure to cap the length of your anger, which could only cause it to arise in other situations. Instead of focusing on your anger, it may be more helpful to focus on the trigger or stimulus for the emotion.

Should You Follow This Rule?

According to Dr. Romanoff, the “Never go to bed angry” rule does not work in a one-size-fits all manner. Whether or not you should follow it depends on many factors, such as the cause of your anger, your temperament, and the circumstances. 

If you’re having a disagreement or an argument with a loved one, Dr. Romanoff outlines some steps you can follow:

  • Communicate: The first step is to try to find a way to communicate with the other person. If it does not seem likely that a resolution will be reached, be honest with each other and hit the pause button on the argument. Recognize that both of you need a good night's sleep to process the situation and that you may each revisit it with a fresh perspective. 
  • Use your anger as a guide: Anger can be a useful emotion that can guide you to locate your boundaries, speak to your values, solve problems, and provide information about what you need from the other person.
  • Commit to finding a resolution: It’s important to commit to resolving the issue instead of merely trying to avoid conflict. This means recognizing the emotions that are behind your anger in order to engage in more honest communication with the other person to move forward. 
  • Seek support and comfort: It can be helpful to call a friend and vent about the situation, getting validation or another viewpoint of the situation through their eyes. Distract yourself by doing something comforting, such as baking your favorite dessert, watching your favorite show, or engaging in some self-care like by taking a long shower or applying a face mask.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re having an argument or conflict with a loved one, you may have to decide between holding on to your anger or letting go for the sake of never going to bed angry. 

It can be helpful to check with the other person and see whether you can reach a resolution with them—this can help both of you release your anger and move forward, instead of carrying the negativity forward to the next day.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t seem likely that the problem will be resolved or if you or your loved one are prone to acting impulsively when you’re angry, it can be helpful to take some time to cool off, get a fresh perspective, and come back to the issue when you’re feeling calmer.

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2 Sources
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