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Study finds that poor sleep quality increases aggression tendencies

Original Article By: Beth Ellwood

Summarized By: Neurobit

According to a recent study published in the journal Biological Psychology, a lack of quality sleep can lead to aggressive behavior. The study's authors, Haobo Zhang and Xu Lei, sought to determine the causal relationship and underlying mechanisms between sleep quality and aggressive behavior.

The researchers conducted a longitudinal study on a sample of around 450 Chinese undergraduate students. The data they used consisted of self-report assessments of sleep quality and aggression and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity. The experimental results showed that sleep quality at time 1 had a significant effect on aggression at time 2, but aggression did not have a significant impact on sleep quality. The study also revealed that poorer sleep quality was only a significant predictor of increased hostility, and was linked to weaker activity in certain brain areas and stronger activity in others.

The findings suggest that poor sleep may increase aggression by impacting emotional cognition and the ability to correctly interpret the emotions of others. The study provides evidence of a causal relationship between sleep quality and aggression and highlights the importance of getting enough and good quality sleep.


Ellwood, B. (2023, January 31). Study finds that poor sleep quality increases aggression, possibly by affecting emotional cognition. PsyPost. Retrieved February 3, 2023, from

Zhang, H., & Lei, X. (2023). Effect of subjective sleep quality on aggression: A two-year longitudinal and fMRI pilot study. Biological Psychology, 176, 108454

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