Objectives Prior work suggests that short sleep and total sleep deprivation are associated with reduced trait Emotional Intelligence (trait EI) but not reduced ability Emotional Intelligence (ability EI). To expand this knowledge base, we investigated the role of habitual sleep quality on trait and ability EI above and beyond the known effects of recent sleep duration.
Methods A large sample, comprising 477 healthy adults completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue; trait EI), and Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Scale (MSCEIT; ability EI).
Results Bivariate correlation and multiple linear regression showed that recent sleep duration and PSQI sleep quality each independently predicted higher trait EI scores, including Emotionality, Self-Control, Sociability, and Well-being, but were unrelated to ability EI scores.
Conclusions In this large community sample, recent sleep duration and habitual sleep quality both independently associated with self-perceived dispositional aspects of EI (ie, trait EI). In contrast, recent sleep duration and PSQI score were unrelated to more crystalized aspects of EI performance, which encompass the general fund of emotional information and the ability to understand and reason about emotional concepts (ie, ability EI). In sum, self-reported longer sleep duration and better sleep quality were associated with subjective perceptions of better emotional functioning, but was unrelated to performance-based metrics of emotional reasoning.
Sleep and emotion are inexorably linked.1 Without sufficient sleep, people become moody,2 easily frustrated,3 and prone to respond with anger.4 Sleep deprivation impairs a host of emotional capacities, which can result in difficulty recognizing emotional facial expressions,5 blunting of emotional expression through facial6 and vocal cues,7 deficits in the ability to use emotions to guide decisionmaking,8 and reduced capacity to suppress unwanted negative thoughts.9 These capabilities represent facets of the construct of Emotional Intelligence (EI), postulated as the ability to both accurately recognize and understand emotional information, reason effectively about that information, and use such knowledge to adaptively guide thought and behavior in oneself and others.10
Here, we showed that sleep quality (as assessed by PSQI) over the preceding month, along with the amount of sleep obtained the night before testing, were significantly and independently associated with higher trait EI, but generally unrelated to ability EI, as defined by the current metrics that were employed. The present findings demonstrate that individuals who routinely experience higher quality sleep and obtain more sleep the night before testing also tend to have greater trait EI, suggesting that they perceive themselves as more competent at: 1) social interactions, listening, and communication (Sociability Factor), 2) perceiving and expressing emotions effectively to maintain relationships (Emotionality Factor), 3) feeling positive, fulfilled, and happy (Wellbeing Factor), and 4) controlling impulses and coping with the stresses of life (Self-Control Factor). Again, it should be borne in mind that as a trait measure, these reflect self-perceptions rather than objectively measured abilities. Our prior studies showed that two nights of total sleep deprivation significantly reduced trait EI and emotional coping capacities,19 and that greater sleep time the night before testing was associated with greater trait EI.20,23 The present results expand those findings to a nonlaboratory context and demonstrate that sleep quality (as assessed by the PSQI) over the preceding month is also independently associated to trait EI, above and beyond the association seen with recent sleep quantity.