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Sleep deprivation causes 'social leprosy'

More and more people are not sleeping enough, and as a result, we are becoming increasingly lonely. American psychologists, affiliated with the university of Berkeley, come to this conclusion after a series of experiments with human subjects. The psychologists discovered that people with a lack of sleep avoid contact with others and feel lonely. And at the same time people without sleep deprivation prefer to avoid contact with sleep-deprived individuals.

The researchers kept 18 healthy students awake at night. The next day, in a laboratory setting, they let a staff member walk slowly towards the students. The students had to say when the employee had come so close that they no longer felt at ease. The researchers repeated the test one day after a night in which the students had slept normally.

In another experiment, the researchers asked the students how lonely they felt.

The figure below shows that after a night without sleep the students appreciated a greater physical distance between themselves and others than after a night in which they had slept. You also see that a night without sleep evokes feelings of loneliness.

Sleep deprivation causes 'social leprosy'

In another experiment, the researchers showed a panel an interview with the students. On one occasion, the interviews were conducted after a night without sleep, on another occasin after a normal night. The members of the panel had to tell whether they would appreciate contact with the students, how lonely they thought the students were, and how lonely they felt themselves.

You see below that the panel was less eager to interact with the undeclared students than with the students if they had had a good night. They also judged the students more lonely if they had not slept than after the students had had a good night's rest. And to top it all off, the panel judges felt lonelier themselves after watching an interview with an undeclared student than after they had seen an interview with a student who had slept normally.

Sleep deprivation causes 'social leprosy'

Sleep deprivation causes 'social leprosy'

Sleep deprivation causes 'social leprosy'

"We humans are a social species", explains senior researcher onderzoeksleider Matthew Walker in a press release. [ August 15, 2018] "Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers."

"The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact. In turn, other people perceive you as more socially repulsive, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss. That vicious cycle may be a significant contributing factor to the public health crisis that is loneliness."

"This all bodes well if you sleep the necessary seven to nine hours a night, but not so well if you continue to short-change your sleep. On a positive note, just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident, and furthermore, will attract others to you."

Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 14;9(1):3146.

Too little sleep makes you less attractive 14.01.2011


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