It’s no secret that going without sleep can affect people’s mood, but a new study shows it does not interfere with their ability to evaluate emotional situations.

Anthony Stenson.
Stenson

“People do become less happy through sleep deprivation, but it’s not affecting how they are processing emotional stimuli in their environment,” said Anthony Stenson, a WSU psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study in Plos One.

Paul Whitney.
Whitney

“I don’t think we want our first responders being numb to the emotional nature of the situations they encounter, and it looks like they are not. On the other hand, reacting normally to emotional situations, but not being able to control your own emotions, could be one reason sleep loss sometimes produces catastrophic errors in stressful situations.” Paul Whitney, WSU Professor of Psychology.

The current study shows that top-down regulation is a problem as well with “hot” or emotional cognitive processes. Future research is needed to understand whether the effects of sleep loss on the two top-down processes are linked.

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