Don’t Believe What They Say: Go to Bed Angry

angry couple in bed
Photo: Thinkstock
The old myth "Don't Go to Bed Angry" is actually pretty bad advice

If there's one piece of relationship advice that everyone has gotten from their grandparents—who probably got it from their grandparents—it's that you shouldn't go to bed angry. Which is great advice provided you a.) don't actually need sleep, and b.) become increasingly rational as exhaustion overtakes you. But for the rest of us, the 95 percent of us who make far better decisions when fully rested, this age-old chestnut is probably something to avoid.

I don't know about you, but the time of day when I'm at my most emotional and my least rational is definitely late at night. Ideas that seemed utterly brilliant before drifting off to Neverland often look ridiculous by the harsh light of day. No, I shouldn't quit my job and start a prog rock band. No, I definitely couldn't make it as a place kicker in the NFL. And no, A Million Ways to Die in the West is not an underrated comic masterpiece. So if my general thoughts on life are so far off track when it's late and I'm tired, why would my powers of conflict resolution be any different? Sorry grandma, but for the sake of my relationship, I think I'm going to bed angry.

Here's the deal with late night arguments: mounting frustration plus increasing exhaustion will very often lead to one or both of you saying something truly damaging to the relationship. You know how you have those silver bullets on each other—those sharp comments that can cut right to the core—but you tend to keep them to yourself because you know how much damage they can inflict? Well late nights and sleep deprivation very often torch any filter you might have, sending those comments straight to the top of your arguments list. And as the night wears on, the idea of going nuclear will seem more and more appealing.

Not that arguments are ever particularly rational. But going to bed angry, and then reassessing the situation when you've both had a chance to sleep on it—or at least toss and turn on it—and have at least attempted to calm down, will increase the likelihood that you won't use those bullets on each other. In fact, telling a couple not to go to bed angry seems downright bizarre if you think about it. How often do you get angrier as you sleep? You're far more likely to wake up thinking it was kind of a stupid argument in the first place then you are being even more pissed off at your partner.

The truth is, not going to bed angry is just terrible advice. You should definitely go to bed angry. You should go to bed in a towering rage if you have to. Just remember, wild acts of desperation are far more likely to occur at night than they are in the morning. Why else would bars open after 3 p.m.? So just hash out your beefs with each other by daylight like civilized adults do, and use that nighttime irrationality for something more constructive, like drunken karaoke.


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