Sorry, Grandma. You got this one wrong.
It’s 11:30pm and you are in the thick of an intense fight with your partner. You’re exhausted and want to sleep, yet keep hearing Grandma's message over and over in your head – “Never go to bed angry!” But you’re too upset to give up and too hurt to compromise. So, what do you do? You ignore that voice and go to bed! I know that goes against everything you’ve heard, but it is exactly what you should do. Here’s why:
You aren’t ready to negotiate
Our thoughts and bodies are connected. When we scream and yell, the following things occur - our adrenalin and other stress hormones begin to surge. Our heart starts to race. When our heartbeat climbs to more than 100 beats per minute, our hearing, peripheral vision and ability to understand information changes. We stop empathizing and listening. We have a harder time making reasonable conclusions. When all this happens, we are in no condition to negotiate a thoughtful resolution to any issue. If you try, there's a good chance you will agree to something unfair that might trigger a future conflict.
Use your dreams
Magic happens as you start to fall asleep and enter the half-conscious/half-asleep state in which you can experience “lucid dreaming.” According to Psychology Today, lucid dreaming is “biomechanically similar” to normal sleep, but provides you with an opportunity to reflect on current concerns and enjoy new and innovative ideas. This happens because, while having a lucid dream, the brain’s frontal area, which helps us solve problems, stays very active. Many people use lucid dreaming to sort out problems they struggle with while they are awake. Some also turn to this type of dreaming to get inspired. Famous ideas that came from lucid dreams include Mary Shelley’s book, “Frankenstein,” artist Salvador Dali’s dream landscape paintings, the tune to Paul McCartney’s song “Yesterday,” and Director Christopher Nolan’s idea for “Inception,” his 2010 psychological thriller.
Beverly D'Urso, an expert in lucid dreaming, says that it's actually quite easy to have this type of dream. Just pay more attention to details you see in your mind while sleeping. If some of them don't match reality, you are having a lucid dream.
How do you usually feel after a good night's sleep? Many people deal with complex issues better when they are rested. Sleep can help you calm down physically and emotionally. When you lie down and begin to breathe more slowly, your body relaxes. Your heart rate normalizes and stress hormones stop circulating. Your listening skills return as does your ability to be compassionate, loving and caring. You may still wake up in the morning concerned about last night’s argument, but will, hopefully, see the troublesome issues more rationally. Then you can work more effectively with your partner to arrive at a meaningful solution.
There are many pieces of advice that have been passed from generation to generation. Definitely brush your teeth. And even though some experts disagree, I do encourage you to eat some form of breakfast. But NOT going to bed while angry is a piece of advice we should not pass on. So, stop the battle, get some ZZZ’s, and enjoy a fresher perspective in the morning.
Janis Roszler is a therapist who specializes in diabetes-related sexual and relationship issues. Her blog articles and books can help transform your romantic relationships. Have diabetes? Learn how you can strengthen the connection you have with the one you love. Read Janis’ book The Secrets of Living and Loving With Diabetes. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter.