Hostile and selfish? Sleep a little

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Poor sleep leads to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure, as well as depression. [iStockphoto]

It’s a known fact that lack of enough sleep makes you grumpy.

Many previous studies have proven that the quality and quantity of sleep has a huge effect on our physical and mental health.

Poor sleep leads to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart failure, as well as depression, a weaker immune system, and lower sex drive.

But did you know that the less we sleep, the less sociable, selfish and hostile we become?

Three separate studies showed a 78% drop in self-reported willingness to help others when fatigued.

The study, conducted by US researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and published on Tuesday, found that losing an hour of sleep a night can kill a person’s desire to help others, including parents and close friends.

Published in the open-access journal PLoS Biology, the team noted that chronic sleep deficit can damage social connections and hamper the generosity instincts that strengthen society.

“Humans help each other. Empathy is a fundamental characteristic of humanity and one of the most powerful forces shaping the rise of modern civilizations,” said Professor Matthew Walker.

“This is the first study to show unambiguously that sleep loss can reduce individuals’ tendency to help each other,” Walker added.

Some 160 participants had to complete sleep questionnaires over four days. They were asked to answer how long they slept per night and whether their sleep was interrupted.

They also answered daily survey questions to gauge their empathy and generosity.

The questionnaires presented different social scenarios, such as whether they would help if a stranger stopped them to ask for directions as they rushed to work.

The scale ranged from “I would ignore them” to “I would stop to help them”.

The results revealed that those who had poor quality sleep overall were significantly less generous than those who had better sleep.

Lack of sleep was also noted to reduce the desire to help on days when a participant had insufficient sleep.

In another experiment, 23 volunteers were kept awake for 24 hours without sleeping.

They weren’t allowed to drink caffeine or alcohol, but could browse the internet or watch TV.

The survey found a 78% drop in self-reported willingness to help others when fatigued.

Professor Walker and his team then scanned participants’ brains, which showed that having a restless night inhibits activity in the part of the brain concerned with social behavior.

This region is known to help people understand what other people are feeling or thinking and also activates empathy and kindness.

“Lack of sleep impaired the desire to help others, whether asked to help close relatives or strangers. This means that sleep loss triggers antisocial and anti-helping behavior of wide impact and blind,” Professor Walker said.

Dr Kyalo Musau, a neurologist, who was not involved in the study, said the findings could have huge implications at all levels of society, especially for the night shift and hospital staff. First line.

“Nurses, doctors and police officers are often chronically fatigued, but the nature of their work demands empathy. However, the facts are the facts, and this research shows that fatigue could and does compromise their ability to help in difficult and demanding circumstances,” Dr. Musau said.

An article published last year by Harvard Medical School indicated that sleeping six hours or less per night increased the risk of developing dementia by 30% by the time they reached 77, unlike their counterparts who slept an average of seven hours per night. night.

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