Should You Let The Sun Set On An Argument?

Many of you will be familiar with the old adage. Never go to sleep on an argument. In the era of connectivity, arguments seem far more commonplace. Around the clock access to friends and loved ones exponentially increases the opportunities to get someone’s back up. So, does the old proverb still hold true?

What does it even mean?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the idea is, what if the person you were arguing with was to die in their sleep. How would you feel knowing that the last words you said to them were in anger? Of course, I think in recorded history this probably hasn’t happened much. However are there other reasons why you shouldn’t go to sleep on an argument?


There is the fact that actually, it can be pretty difficult to get to sleep if you have just had a fall out with a loved one. During an argument, your blood pressure rises. You get hormones rush through your body. All of these things can make sleeping a nightmare (pun intended). Then there’s the fact that the problem will still be there in the morning. What if you have work? Are you just going to let the issue fester, surely that can’t be a good thing?

Well, that’s settled that debate then?

Well not entirely, no. As previously mentioned when in an argument your body produces swathes of hormones, adrenaline, cortisol and others. This can produce a fight or flight response in a person. You know when someone “storms off” in an argument. That isn’t just them being immature, often that is a natural body response to stress. With the heightened body response, people often can’t cope and feel a need to escape. Sometimes they can freeze instead. Of course, the other response is to fight. Not always physically either. This is why people often say things they don’t mean when they are angry.

The thing is, even when you think these responses have subsided you aren’t always “safe”. Studies have taken place into the human response to confrontation. Originally it was thought that a person could take up to 45 minutes to completely “de-stress” after an argument. Now it is thought that number could be anything up to three hours. And if you are further riled during that “de-stressing” period the “clock resets” ever had one of those arguments that went on and on. That is why.

So with under consideration perhaps grabbing a duvet and taking a time out on the couch for an evening isn’t the worst idea in the world. You probably won’t get a great deal of sleep but sometimes things that seemed like a big deal the night before don’t in the morning.

Don’t let it get that far

Making the assumption for a second that the argument is between you and a significant other. They frequently are. A top tip for when things start to spiral out of control is to hold their hands. It is so difficult to be truly angry with someone when you are holding their hands.

Also, beware of the “argument cycle” when you are in a confrontation with someone there are three states. The judgemental parent, the scolded child and the adult. When you are both in “adult state” things will be calm. When one person takes on either the child or superior parent role the other person will adjust to fill in the opposing role. It is only when the pair of you reach an equilibrium that harmony can be restored and sometimes that requires a break. If you have patience and have identified that you are taking on a role, adjust your behaviour and patiently wait for the other person to follow suit.

Start the discussion

to comment