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Why It’s OK to Go to Bed Angry

why it's ok to go to bed angryWe’ve all heard this piece of relationship advice before: Don’t go to bed angry.

The idea behind it makes sense. We don’t want to dismiss important issues or ignore our partner’s concerns. It’s not healthy to let things go unsettled. We shouldn’t ignore a problem by falling asleep and pretending everything is fine the next day. Doing that will only build up resentment over time.

However, sometimes it’s okay, and can even be beneficial, to put an argument on pause and go to bed angry. Here’s why.

  • Wait for a better brain.
    When we’re tired, our brain doesn’t function at its peak. We can’t have a productive disagreement with a half-functioning brain. We are more emotional, have less self-control and aren’t able to be as objective on a sleepy brain. Continuing an argument under these conditions will just make the argument worse. Get some sleep and then have the discussion the next day. You’ll be more rational and will be able to see things from a better point-of-view than if you are tired.
  • Sleep heals.
    “Sleeping on it” can help put things into perspective and allow us to be more clearheaded than we were the night before. We might even feel different about the argument after getting some sleep. If we insist on staying awake to work things out, we won’t be thinking as clearly and may end up saying things we will later regret. Sleep can help us work through things. It’s very possible that we will wake up the next day with a better understanding of the situation, and even a solution. An issue that felt impossible the night before might now have a clear solution.
  • Working against the clock can add to stress.
    Knowing that our partner has an important meeting or long workday tomorrow will only add to the stress of the argument. Realizing that vital REM sleep is slipping further away will just stress us out more, and won’t help solve the argument any more quickly. Any solution that we decide on is probably a temporary one, so we should just to go to bed.

    Staying awake until the fight is resolved will lead to exhaustion the following day, which can lead to more resentment. Break the cycle. Go to bed.

  • Anger dissipates with time.
    Emotions change with time. We all know and have experienced the phrase, “in the heat of the moment.” Letting those heated emotions simmer down overnight can result in a much different outcome. It is funny how a situation that made us so angry the night before does not bother us as much the next day. We may still feel strongly, but with less anger present a better outcome is sure to follow.

Going to bed angry doesn’t mean that we should dismiss our partner. Remember that you are a team and that communication is essential for a healthy relationship. Let your partner know that you want to hear his or her perspective and discuss the matter further when you’re both well rested, less emotional and are thinking straight.

Ask to pause the argument. Get some rest and finish the discussion at a better time. It will lead to a more productive dialogue and a happier, more peaceful relationship in the long run.

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Why It’s OK to Go to Bed Angry

Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director of Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and writes a blog about the issues facing men (and the women who love them). As an expert in understanding men, their partners, and the unique relationship challenges couples face today, he regularly appears on The Huffington Post, NerdWallet and PsychCentral. Dr. Kurt is a lover of dogs, sarcasm, everything outdoors, and helping those seeking to make their lives and relationships better. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.

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APA Reference
Smith, K. (2018). Why It’s OK to Go to Bed Angry. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 8 Jun 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.