Fighting late into the night is just disaster waiting to happen.
Sometimes, when it comes to relationship advice, what we take as common sense is really just a bunch of pie-in-the-sky crap! I call it crap because it's too idealistic or just ignorant of how people's minds, bodies and hearts really work.
For example: Take the whole idea that couples should never go to bed angry.
Now, I'll be honest with you, I used to believe this is a great rule to live by. But, that was back when I was in a relationship that lacked passion — including the passion to argue.
These days, I'm in a much more vibrant relationship, and I know without a doubt that if we didn't go to bed angry, we'd stay up arguing all night about some stupid thing that happened three years ago. (Yeah, we're both stubborn enough that we just might be.)
Going to bed angry is actually great for our relationship because things usually look completely different in the morning.
When the alternative is a sleepless or nearly sleepless night, going to bed angry is actually BEST for most relationships. Sleepiness from staying up to argue can actually make things a whole lot worse.
Here's what the sleep experts have to say about why "never going to bed angry" is just a bad idea all the way around:
1. You avoid saying something stupid
Stanford sleep expert, Brandon Peters, MD reports that difficulty sleeping interferes with higher cognitive functioning of the brain.
This means you need sleep to pay attention, reason well, communicate kindly and effectively and SOLVE PROBLEMS! If you're so sleepy that you can't solve problems, then how on Earth are you going to resolve an argument? Yeah, you're not.
2. It's better for your health
OK, the data shows that it's actually chronic sleep loss that dramatically impacts your health, but if you're regularly arguing instead of sleeping, it will add up. Who knows, the next time one of you says "You're killing me" during a late night argument, you might actually be right! Take a break from the conversation and get some rest.
3. You're rested enough for great makeup sex
Dr. Robert D. Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute says that chronic sleep deprivation can lower the sex drive hormone (testosterone) in both men and women.
Sleep specialists have found that both men and women report less interest in sex when they're sleep-deprived. So if you're looking forward to amazing make-up sex, you need to finish that argument in the morning when you're rested and recharged.
4. Your outlook is more positive
There's a definite link between lack of sleep and depression. And it may seem like a chicken and egg situation. Insomnia can be a sign of depression and lack of sleep can play a role in causing depression.
To solve a problem in a positive way, you need rest to refresh your outlook and perspective. Staying up late fighting just drains you both and results in negative thinking and a depressed outlook. "We should just break up" at night turns back to "We can work this out" in the morning. Sleepless nights are not your friend. It's almost impossible to feel great and excited about the day, your life, or your relationship when you've missed a lot of sleep the night before because of some ridiculous argument.
5. You stick to the point better
In 2013, sleep researchers at UC Berkeley discovered a "dysfunctional pathway that explains the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss."
Now, this forgetfulness could really go either way toward helping or hurting your argumentative ways. Staying up late fighting contributes to you going off track and fighting about all sorts of issues, instead of the one truly at hand. You get too sleepy and forget your real point. Catch some zzzzz's and address the issue (if you can remember it) in the morning when your mind is sharp and you can stay focused on the real conversation.
6. You avoid doing or saying something you'll regret
Sleep expert Phil Gehrman, PhD, says "Lack of sleep can affect our interpretations of events. This hurts our ability to make sound judgments because we may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely."
The longer you stay up arguing, the worse the argument will probably get because you start to get cranky and lash out ... saying anything to make the fight end (so you can sleep) instead of truly resolving the issue.
So, go to bed already.
Commit to revisiting the conversation again the next day once you're rested and regain a little perspective. Now, doesn't that feel better?
And while you're at it, now that we've debunked this seriously bad "never go to bed angry" idea, maybe consider questioning some of that other so-called great relationship advice out there. If it just makes conflict worse, why listen to it?
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach and advisor helping people who are considering divorce make a smart decision about staying or leaving their marriage. You can join her anonymous newsletter group for free advice or email her at Karen@functionaldivorce.com for a free consultation. Don’t let the worry about divorce ruin your life, help is available as soon as you’re ready.