Going to sleep in a huff after a late night argument lets the anger seep deeper, researchers say.

According to a joint Chinese and US study, falling asleep after a tiff lets your brain process the new information into your long-term memory. 

When participants were shown a series of images of neutral faces paired with unpleasant images, and asked to suppress the negative memory, they were less able to get rid of the nasty association after a night’s rest.

Brain activity during the task showed that the neural circuits involved in memory suppression, which initially were centred on the hippocampus, shifted to a more distributed pattern in the cortex, and this shift seems to be what makes the aversive memories harder to suppress.

Essentially, if you stay awake, angry thoughts are processed by less of your brain than if you go to sleep immediately after.

How changes in the brain affect the ability to suppress negative memories could potentially help doctors better understand conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The full study is accessible here.