Why is everything funnier when I’m tired?

HHere’s a scenario that might sound familiar: After a not-so-good night’s sleep, you’re exhausted, delirious, and struggling to get through the day. As you sit staring at your to-do list, someone tells a lame dad joke. Typically, you just roll your eyes and fake a smile, however, today you laugh so hard you cry and can’t catch your breath, wondering why is everything funnier? when I am tired?

While you may be concerned about your sudden drop in your humor class, know that it’s not just you. There’s even a term for sleep deprivation-induced giggles: muffin dot, according to the Urban Dictionary. It’s not necessarily the phrase a scientist would use to describe the phenomenon, but psychologist Kyler Shumway, PsyD, says a lack of quality zzzs makes things funnier. (Research finds it also makes us feel drunk, FYI.)

“It starts with the brain, specifically the prefrontal cortex,” he explains, adding that one of its main functions is to regulate emotions and inhibitions. This is why babies and children (whose prefrontal cortex is not fully formed) are so easily amused. . “In many ways, the prefrontal cortex works like the brake pedal for your emotions,” says Dr. Shumway. “Your nervous system is constantly reacting to the environment, and your prefrontal cortex has to decide whether or not to vent feelings.”

But when we get too tired, the brakes become faulty and our prefrontal cortex doesn’t have as much control. “Eventually they give up, and whatever emotion is present – ​​laughter, rage or sobbing, etc. – it comes out,” says Dr. Shumway. So in a sense, having strong emotional reactions to small things, difficulty concentrating and concentrating on tasks, anxiety and depression can all be indicators of sleep deprivation, he adds. -he.

“Sleep deprivation is incredibly dangerous, both short-term and long-term,” says Dr. Shumway. “People who are sleep deprived are less rational, have poorer motor performance, and cannot properly record their memories.” He adds that things are even worse for those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation. “They may experience a reduced immune system response, increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, decreased working memory and reaction times,” he says.

Conversely, research finds that well-rested people perform all of these functions better, tend to have an easier time regulating their emotions and moods, and are more alert.

What to do if you reach the muffin point of no return

It’s common to go through periods in your life where you feel more drained and drained than usual. While the obvious answer is to get more rest, that’s not always possible and, according to Dr. Shumway, in the short term, “our bodies are designed to handle occasional stress,” he says. “If you need to go through occasional periods of sleep deprivation to overcome life’s challenges, like finishing a project or dealing with an emergency, that’s fine.”

But this is not the case if the sleep deprivation occurs regularly. If so, it’s time to start looking into the lifestyle causes that might be contributing to your lack of quality zzzs. “Stimulants, like caffeine, can reduce the experience of fatigue; however, they tend to mask the underlying symptoms of exhaustion rather than act as a cure,” warns Dr. Shumway.

Instead, he suggests talking to a professional to find the root cause. “If you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation or insomnia, consider working with a therapist who specializes in CBT-I [cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia] a specialized form of talk therapy designed to treat sleep disorders,” suggests Dr. Shumway. It’s also worth seeing your GP or sleep specialist to see if there are any underlying medical conditions that could be keeping you up at night. Either way, you’ll sleep better knowing you’re doing something about it.

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