If you’re upset and go to bed, not only do you recall the specific events, but also the feelings that were associated with those events. There’s another element to add to the mix.
When you go to bed mad or sad, you will lay there and continually review what was said, how you felt and analyze the motivations and intentions of those involved. This review reinforces the negative feelings, creates anxiety and causes adrenaline to flow.
This adrenaline then “writes” the events on the amygdala which is the emotional seat of the brain. You take these thoughts and feelings into the sleep cycle.
If you stay awake, your negative thoughts and feelings will be less powerful because they’ll have to compete with the events that go on around you. The intensity of the feelings will dull as the evening wears on.
If your child is upset, distract them by engaging in emotionally neutral activities before they go to bed.
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