The effect of sleep deprivation and restriction on mood, emotion, and emotion regulation: Three meta-analyses in one

Cara C. Tomaso, Anna B. Johnson, Timothy D. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: New theory and measurement approaches have facilitated nuanced investigation of how sleep loss impacts dimensions of affective functioning. To provide a quantitative summary of this literature, three conceptually related meta-analyses examined the effect of sleep restriction and sleep deprivation on mood, emotion, and emotion regulation across the lifespan (i.e. from early childhood to late adulthood). Methods: A total of 241 effect sizes from 64 studies were selected for inclusion, and multilevel meta-analytic techniques were used when applicable. Results: There was a moderate, positive effect of sleep loss on negative mood (g = 0.45), which was stronger for studies with younger samples, as well as a large, negative effect of sleep loss on positive mood (g = -0.94). For negative mood only, studies that used total sleep deprivation had larger effect sizes than studies that restricted sleep. After correcting for publication bias, a modest but significant negative effect for sleep loss on emotion (g = -0.11) was found; the valence of emotional stimuli did not change the direction of this effect, and type of sleep manipulation was also not a significant moderator. Finally, sleep restriction had a small, negative effect on adaptive emotion regulation (g = -0.32), but no significant impact on maladaptive emotion regulation (g = 0.14); all studies on adaptive emotion regulation were conducted with youth samples. Conclusions: Sleep loss compromises optimal affective functioning, though the magnitude of effects varies across components. Findings underscore the importance of sleep for healthy affective outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • emotion
  • emotion regulation
  • meta-analysis
  • mood
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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