A few decades ago, a talk show co-host infamous for his temper bragged that he needed only four hours of sleep. Current research has shown that the two are connected. Inadequate levels of sleep lead to reduced willpower and increased inability to maintain an even temperament. If you find your temper easily frays or that your thinking is sluggish, look to how much you sleep. Sleep deprivation impairs glucose regulation which negatively impacts willpower. The result may be a frayed temper along with a series of poor decisions.
Reduced willpower and sluggish thinking as a result of inadequate sleep may be caused by deterioration of neurons in the brain. These neurons work hard when you are awake and can become over-stressed if there is not enough of a recovery period during sleep. As neurons break down, so does your thinking.
Although the ideal number of hours of sleep vary by individual and by age, research at the National Sleep Foundation suggests that the average adult needs 7 – 8 hours of sleep to achieve optimal physical and mental health results. You can read more about the importance of sleep in the chapter ‘To Sleep…’ in Walking in Sunshine.