Sleep is an integral and important part of everyone’s life. Without sleep, a person will live much less than without water. With chronic insomnia, we begin to feel less social, and recent research has shown that lack of sleep can affect social relationships. MedAboutMe will tell about the causes of sleep disorders and the results of research.
Sleep Disorders: Health Implications
Sleep disorders can contribute to many mental and physical problems. Consequences include: depression, cognitive impairment. Some studies have shown that sleep disturbances can increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, doctors often ask questions about the quality of sleep and may even prescribe appropriate studies.
A study conducted at the University of California has proven a link between sleep disorders and building social relationships. Matthew Walker, lead author of the study and a sleep scientist, noted that humans are a social species, and without this kind of relationship, the survival of humans as a species would be in jeopardy. However, sleep disturbance can make us social outcasts.
The study showed that on the one hand, people who suffered from sleep loss are less inclined to social relationships. On the other hand, such people become less attractive to society, therefore, there can be no talk of relationships.
Sleep loss and social relationships
To get the results, the UCLA team looked at functional MRI brain scans and other tests that measured social isolation and sleep quality.
The study involved 18 adults who were divided into 2 groups: one group was provided with adequate sleep, and the second was deprived of it throughout the day.
The first phase of the study involved studying brain activity, when the subjects were asked to watch a short video of people with a neutral facial expression walking towards the subjects. All participants in the study had the option to stop the broadcast at any time they felt the person on the screen was too close. Depending on where the video was stopped, the researchers were able to assess the participants’ comfort level, their readiness for social contacts and relationships.
An analysis of the data showed that sleep-deprived people were more likely to avoid relationships than those whose sleep was full. Participants in the sleepless group stopped the video 18–60% of the time earlier.
When studying MRI images, it was possible to reveal even more interesting results. Doctors found that sleep-deprived patients showed increased activity in a brain circuit that “turns on” in response to the threatening presence of a person. The same images also showed a lower level of activity in those areas of the brain that evaluate emotions, their own intentions and the behavior of others.
These two results together prove that sleep loss impairs a person’s ability to assess the intentions of others, and social relationships for him turn out to be less attractive and necessary.
Other sleep scientists have pointed out that it is perhaps no coincidence that over the past few decades there has been a marked increase in the number of lonely people, as well as a sharp decrease in the duration of sleep.
Another part of the study focused on how external observers perceive sleep-deprived patients. To obtain data, 1033 third-party observers were involved in the study.
Without explaining the purpose of the study, participants were asked to watch a video of a group of sleep-deprived subjects discussing various topics. Afterwards, the participants were asked to evaluate what they saw according to several criteria:
how lonely the people you see look;
whether there was an interest in interacting and forming social relations with them.
The researchers then asked the observers about their own feelings. Interestingly, after watching the video for a minute, the observers noted that they were literally infected with a bad mood and began to feel isolated.
In the final phase of the study, the researchers asked participants to complete a standardized survey after just one sleepless night, and then after a full night’s sleep. The findings showed that patients who were sleep deprived for a night or more were more likely to feel lonely and unsociable in the morning, and this mood persisted throughout the day.
According to doctors, just one night of good sleep helps to improve mood, a person becomes more sociable, confident and ready to build new relationships. In addition, a well-rested person is more attractive to others.
Also, the findings suggest that chronic sleep deprivation and sleep disorders will sooner or later affect social life and emotional health. The authors of the study noted that if sleep is inadequate and patients suffer from insomnia, then they simply do not have the desire to communicate, make new acquaintances, relationships. In turn, people around perceive a sleepy person as less attractive, which further increases social isolation. Thus a vicious circle is formed.
How to deal with insomnia?
Sleep disturbances, insomnia — a reason to visit a doctor, because it is possible that there are some serious reasons for its formation. If these were not identified after the examination, the doctor will give appropriate recommendations.
The first thing to start with is to go to bed only when you want to sleep. Just staying in bed and waiting for sleep to come is not a good idea. In addition, if sleep does not come within 15–20 minutes, you need to get out of bed and do some business.
The second thing you need to pay attention to is the time of going to bed. It is really best for larks to go to bed early, but for owls, you need to stick to your schedule. Nothing good will come of trying to turn a lark into an owl. The production of hormones that occurs during sleep does not depend on the time when a person falls asleep, but to a greater extent on sleep cycles.
Thirdly, you can use modern gadgets and technologies that not only control sleep, but also help you learn to fall asleep on time and wake up feeling rested.
Also, the doctor may advise you to read a boring book at night, which makes you sleepy. Some note that dime novels can help in this matter, in which there is not much plot, and it makes no sense to delve into what is happening, but they catch up with sleep.