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Sleep Deprivation Kills Social Life By Triggering Feelings Of Loneliness And Isolation

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Sleep deprivation has been known to have negative effects on the physical and mental state, but apparently, not getting enough sleep also affects a person's social life.

People who are feeling lonely and isolated might want to take a look at their sleeping habits. If their hours of sleep are too few, staying in bed for additional hours might turn things around for them.

Sleep Deprivation Kills Your Social Life

In a new paper published in the Nature Communications journal, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley linked sleep deprivation with feelings of loneliness and social isolation. They explained that people who do not get enough sleep end up avoiding social interaction, and may seem less appealing to their friends, which leads to further isolation.

"We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers," said senior author and UC Berkeley professor Matthew Walker. "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."

The study recruited 18 healthy college students, who were then put through two sessions in sleep lab. In the first session, electrodes were attached to the participants to measure their sleep activity, and were then sent home to sleep normally. In the second session, the participants stayed in the lab, where it was made sure that they did not get any sleep.

For both sessions, the students answered surveys regarding their mood in the following morning. They also accomplished two tasks that measured their preferred level of social interaction, and were interviewed on current events for 20 minutes.

The tasks revealed that when the students were sleep deprived, they preferred more personal space. The participants also reported feeling lonelier, compared to when they had a full night's sleep.

The researchers also took to the internet for their findings, recruiting online volunteers in the United States through the Mechanical Turk platform of Amazon. The participants also reported that sleep deprivation resulted in feelings of loneliness.

There is a positive outlook to the study, however, as the researchers found that a single night of good sleep will reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation on a person's social life.

Getting The Right Amount Of Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been found to have numerous effects on people, including a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease and increased lapses of attention.

However, on the other end, too much sleep is also bad for people. The recommended number of hours for sleeping, taking into consideration different reports and studies, is between 8.5 hours and 9 hours.

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