Sleep deprived people are less willing to help others than when they have had a good night’s sleep. Scientists from the University of California at Berkeley have shown this.By Lennart ‘t Hart
Scientists already knew that lack of sleep is bad for our health. It now seems that people are also less social with each other if they are sleep deprived.
Scientists conducted three experiments in which they examined how sleep deprivation affects our willingness to help others. In the first experiment, the researchers compared the brain scans of 24 healthy volunteers. They had slept eight hours one night and stayed awake another night.
The trial showed that the area of the brain that people use to sympathize with others was less active after a sleepless night. “It’s like these parts of the brain don’t respond when we try to interact with other people,” said study researcher Eti Ben Simon.
Stop the elevator
In a second experiment, the researchers followed more than a hundred people for three to four nights. Their sleep was measured during this period. Once again, scientists saw the willingness to help each other diminish as people slept less well.
For example, poor sleepers were less motivated to, for example, hold an elevator door open for someone, volunteer, or help an injured stranger on the street.
For the third part of the study, the researchers looked at three million charitable donations in the United States between 2001 and 2016. They found that the day after daylight saving time began, people suddenly made less donations. This was a decrease of no less than 10%. In US states where the clock was not turned, there was no difference in donations.
Encourage a good night’s sleep
The research results were published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology. According to researcher Matthew Walker, they show that sleep deprivation makes people “less compassionate, less generous and more antisocial”. According to him, it also influences how members of a society interact with each other socially.
According to Ben Simon, it’s good if people encourage each other to sleep well. “It will significantly strengthen the social bond we have with each other.”
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