The less you sleep, the less you can understand other people’s moods
The less you sleep, the less you may be able to understand other people’s moods – a problem affecting two-thirds of all people in developed nations.
A new study reveals that people who don’t get enough sleep aren’t as capable of understanding other people’s moods because they lack the ability to register facial expressions. That can lead to negative responses.
Considering that two-thirds of people in the developed world don’t get enough sleep, this is something of an issue.
This means that people can often misinterpret the looks others give them, and mistake indifference for anger and the like. It can also help to explain irrational paranoia against one another.
The study was conducted by Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He and his team recently published their results in the Journal of Neuroscience after an experiment conducted with 18 healthy adults.
“The better the quality of dream sleep, the more accurate the brain and body was at differentiating between facial expressions,” Walker wrote.
The researchers asked the 18 subjects to view a series of 70 facial expressions. The responses were significantly different after a full night of sleep, compared to those after being awake for 24 hours.
The experiment also monitored heart and brain activity. Without proper sleep, the brain has difficulty stimulating the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex, the emotion sensing regions. That increased the negative responses towards faces, even friendly ones.
On top of that, when the brain is sleep deprived, it has difficulty sending distress signals to the heart, which creates a different physical response in emotional situations.
It’s not exactly a revelation to hear that a lack of sleep can lead to irritability and cause mistakes, but the point of the research was to show that lack of sleep can drastically impact our interaction with other people. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may be unable to properly mingle with others, since your impressions could be very wrong.
That could lead to disastrous social consequences, as well as professional problems. It can’t be good for your work to think everyone is out to get you based on how they look at you.
The study also focuses on sleep deprivation on jobs requiring quick reactions in stressful situations. That includes soldiers, medical staff, and even – to a lesser degree – students.
So go to sleep – it can make the difference between being a healthy reactive human being, and a paranoid mess.