What’s the Meaning of Sleep & Emotions?

The Deep Connection Between Your Time in Bed and How You Feel… 

As a Personal Energy and Potential Coach who focuses on a unique, holistic transformation, I love helping people understand how their behaviors, surroundings, beliefs and especially their sleep, affects their health.  Read on about what more sleep means for you and your clients!

The way we live deeply affects how we feel.

This is especially true when it comes to sleep and emotions.

For many, this association may not be surprising. Most of us know that when we’re tired, we’re more irritable. When we’re sleep-deprived, we’re more anxious. When we’re exhausted, we’re less patient. And so, as caretakers of my parents, Dad 86 and Mom 91, we experience firsthand how sleep negatively impacts our emotions and even impacts deep triggers from my past. That’s another story later!


“Emotions connect body to brain. Emotion links one person to another.” – Dan Siegel 




Our brains don’t work as well when we don’t get enough sleep. The science is undeniable.  

Healthy brains process emotions in healthy ways. Unhealthy brains (AKA those that don’t get enough R&R!) lead us astray.

Not long ago, I didn’t value sleep, I thought I was fairly healthy eating homegrown, organic veggies and practicing Qigong but I’ll admit I used to say, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’! When I combined poor sleeping habits with a stressful profession and a bully manager, the results weren’t good (see my friend, Tessa O’Hara’s story).

Fortunately, we have more insight today than ever before on what happens to our brains when we don’t sleep enough. As a result, we also understand better why this affects how we feel.

More than ten years ago, research from UC Berkeley and Harvard Medical School helped us see how our brains respond under different sleep conditions. Sleep deprivation increases activity in parts of our brain that are associated with depression and anxiety. Sleep abundance cleans our brains of unhealthy toxins and resets our minds for the next day.


The amygdala is the emotional center sees and hears everything that occurs to us instantaneously and is the trigger point for the fight or flight response”.  Daniel Goleman 


The amygdala, especially, is affected by how much we sleep.

This small part of the brain plays a BIG role in our emotions, feelings, and mood. The amygdala is responsible for controlling aggression and perceiving emotions, like anger, sadness, and fear. It also helps us file away memories so that we’re more prepared to deal with similar circumstances in the future.

When the amygdala is on overdrive, we respond irrationally to day-to-day occurrences. We struggle to deal with emotional challenges. Our moods, or “threshold for emotions,” change.

How much we sleep affects brains. Our brains regulate our emotions. Therefore, sleep and emotions are tied closely together, for better or for worse. Sounds like some marriages!

Okay. That’s enough science. Let’s talk about what this means for your life.

Three Meanings we can give to Sleep

More Sleep Means Less Anxiety

Anxiety is, by definition, a feeling of nervousness or unease due to some future event or uncertain outcomes.

It is okay to feel anxious. It is a perfectly reasonable and human response in many situations.

What is not okay is handicapping our brains by not getting enough sleep. We must give ourselves a fair chance to regulate anxiety properly, especially in Autumn and Winter.

Now is the season to rest and rebuild. The colder months should stir in us a desire to slow down. With holidays and travel, we often act in opposition to the nature of this season, creating internal disarray and emotional confusion.

Be still. Rest. Sleep. By doing so, you empower your brain to keep unreasonable anxieties at bay.


More Sleep Means Emotional Resilience 

Do you ever go through stretches when your emotional well dries up more quickly than usual?

Often times, that happens because your baseline moods are not where they should be. You have less emotional capacity to handle difficult situations. During these times, you are flying closer to the “sun” (depression, stress, etc.) than usual and risk getting burned more often.

Sleep helps us keep our moods in check so that we are more emotionally resilient. When we manage our underlying moods well, we are better able to reflect on the blessings in our lives. We can practice gratitude more fully and strengthen our inner selves.

When we sleep well, we give ourselves the freedom to be more joyful during the holiday season!


“Positive emotions are the building blocks of resilience, physical health, everyday effectiveness, and fulfilling relationships. We need moments of positivity. Because those moments nourish growth, and they nourish learning.”  Barbara Fredrickson 


More Sleep Means More Time Being YOURSELF

Finally, sleep allows you to be your best self… spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Life is too short to be lived as sleep-deprived shells! We owe it to the people around us… and we owe it to ourselves to choose to be at our emotional peak every opportunity. Rather than view sleep as a necessary evil, treat it as a time of nourishment through which your mind, body, and spirit are replenished.

Trust me when I say that you will learn to love the person you are when you are well rested!


Let’s have a meaningful conversation about sleep!