What Your Sleeping Style Says About You
Experts say how we sleep and how much we sleep affects mood and health.
Even a 'Starfish' Can Snap
But even a starfish can turn on you if they don't get enough sleep, experts
because everyone has an individual need to sleep and if
you are not able to meet your needs, you are not going to behave," says Ana
Krieger, MD, director of the New York University Sleep Disorders Center in New
York City. "Your normal way to compensate for the loss of sleep is by
overworking, being rude or hyperactive, being more depressed and less
"With regard to personality, everybody knows that one of the first
consequences of sleep deprivation is impaired sustained attention and
irritability," says Mark W. Mahowald, MD, director of the Minnesota Regional
Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin County Medical Center and professor of
neurology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "Just about any degree
of sleep deprivation will result in irritability and has far-reaching
ramifications in the workplace, family, classroom, and behind the wheel."
By contrast, delaying start times in schools so students get more sleep
results in better behavior, he points out. "With more sleep, people are less
irritable and less short tempered."
"Most of the studies show that when a person doesn't get enough sleep on a
regular basis, there is a gradual deterioration of function, and the same thing
is true if you disrupt sleep with lights, sounds, and bells," says Robert
Ballard, MD, medical director of the sleep disorders program at National Jewish
Hospital Medical Research Center in Denver.
But with adequate sleep, he says, there may be improvement in learning,
memory, and reasoning. "People are capable of thinking more abstractly, better
capable of problem solving, have improved fine motor coordination and long and
"What we know is that if people don't get as much sleep as they should, they
have changes in their mood and their level of activity," agrees NYU's Krieger.
For example, when kids get hyperactive and cranky, it means they are overtired
and ready for a nap. "Adults just get moody and upset with everybody," she