News Briefs: Sleep Loss & Anger; Criticism in Relationships: Vitamin D & Depression Risk

Too Little Sleep Makes You Angrier in Frustrating Situations

If you’ve ever been extra cranky after a poor night’s sleep, now there’s science to explain why. In one of the first studies to provide evidence linking sleep loss to anger, researchers compared the reactions of two groups of volunteers, one of which averaged about seven hours of sleep a night and the other group about four-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. The volunteers were observed rating different products in a lab setting both before and after the sleep manipulation. Background noises were adjusted to make the activity more uncomfortable. Both groups grew angrier when the noise become more unpleasant. But the sleep-deprived group reported more anger regardless of the noise. While many people can get used to background noise, this study showed the people who get little sleep actually trend in the other direction: They get angrier, more distressed, and have more difficulty adapting to frustrating situations. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Humor Often Replaces Criticism the Longer Couples Are Together

Angry, frustrating arguments often characterize the early and even the middle years of a couple’s relationship. But recent research finds that those sometimes nasty disagreements tend to be replaced by humor and acceptance later in life. A study published recently in the journal Emotion found that while emotional interactions between partners in the early years of a relationship are often marked by criticism and defensiveness, those traits tend to soften over time. Instead, they usually give way to tolerance, affection, and humor. The researchers suggested that their findings, based on interviews of 87 middle-aged and older couples over a period of 13 years, challenge the stereotype of husbands and wives becoming less patient and tender with each other. Couples, including many of those who acknowledged dissatisfaction with the relationship, tended to express more positive emotional behaviors and fewer negative behaviors over time. The study reaffirms other research that suggests people become more focused on the positives in their lives as they age, and less consumed by negative feelings.

Study Finds Low Levels of Vitamin D Associated with Greater Depression Risk

In a study of about 4,000 adults ages 50 and older, researchers in Ireland found a strong association between vitamin D and mood. The study, published in the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, found vitamin D deficiency was associated with a 75 percent increased risk of depression in adults within four years. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because exposure to sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D. It is usually associated with bone health, but this is the first study to illustrate a strong connection between depression and vitamin D deficiencyÑa common condition, particularly in people who live in regions with long winters and reduced sunlight exposure. Fortunately, vitamin D is readily available in fortified foods and over-the-counter supplements. If you are concerned about your levels, talk to your doctor. A blood test can determine if you are vitamin D deficient. The next step for researchers is to study whether vitamin D supplementation can influence depression.

Fibbing to Your Physician? You’re Not Alone, But You Could Be Jeopardizing Your Health

When you’re asked by your doctor about how much you exercise and what you eat, along with how well you’re following your physician’s advice, do you always give an honest answer? According to a recent study, between 60 and 80 percent of patients are not forthcoming with their doctors about information that could affect their health. The study, published in JAMA: Network Open, also found that many patients say they understand their doctors’ instructions even when they don’t. When asked why they aren’t completely honest, many of the respondents to the survey said they didn’t want to be labeled as poor decision makers and that they wanted their doctors to think highly of them. If you aren’t forthcoming with your doctor, however, there can be serious consequences to your health. The researchers suggest that physicians may need to change the way they communicate with patients, and do more to explain the importance of following their instructions. Likewise, they say patients need to understand that their health care may be impaired if their doctors don’t have the right information.

Comments
  • Madeline O.

    My husband, Chuck, and I were approaching our 56th anniversary. Unfortunately the last 5 years were becoming more difficult because of his medical problems and he was ready to die. We managed to cope with the situation but we found there were many times we realized our our love for each other was becoming more obvious. Your article on Humor replaces criticism was well written. Thank you.

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