Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that people who sleep at a later time have improved moods come morning compared to people who go to bed at a fixed hour only to have their sleep disturbed in the middle of the night. Lead author Patrick Finan pointed to the benefits of slow-wave sleep (SWS) that people can't get when they get interrupted during snooze time.

Many people have experienced the so called 'slow-wave sleep' several times but it remains just as elusive. Also called the 'deep sleep', slow-wave sleep is when the breathing and heart rates slow down, muscles relax completely, and eye movement (REM) calms down. This state of sleep enables a person to wake up feeling rested in the morning. Otherwise, the frame of mind suffers even if you've clocked in eight hours in snooze land.

In the study, Finan's team found the participants' lack of SWS had substantial links to the reduction of positive mood and energy levels. Interrupted sleep also lowered feelings of friendliness and sympathy.

"It appears that losing slow-wave sleep impairs the ability to recover or stabilize positive emotions in response to stressors. So we should be paying attention to not just the quantity or quality of sleep, and not simply the quantity or quality of mood or emotions, but the combination of the two," said Finan.

Sleep expert Peter Franzen noted that the findings shed more light into the effects of fitful sleep. Franzen is University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's assistant professor of psychiatry who was not involved in the study. 

Franzen listed tips on how to help people hit that slow-wave sleep during the night. Go to bed only when you are really sleepy or tired. If you are not sleepy, get out of bed and stay up until tiredness kicks in. Staying in bed to "wait" for sleep to arrive is counterproductive. Determine a wake-up time and stick to it every morning even if you had a bad night. Hitting the snooze button and staying in bed longer after a restless night will only keep the bad cycle of fitful sleep.

Photo: Guilherme Tavares | Flickr

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