We sleep for about one-third of our lives. It must be somehow meaningful, right? In recent years science has confirmed what we should have known already. Sleep is important. There are many studies now that show how sleep deprivation can negatively affect your physical health. Today we discuss the effects of sleep on your relationships. In fact, slight changes in your sleep pattern can either ease your way toward personal connection or make it quite hard to maintain.
The Latest Scientific Studies on the Social Effects of Sleep
As we already said, science has recently started to investigate the social effects of sleep patterns. Let’s have a look at some of the most significant studies of the past few years.
Sleep Deprivation Causes Judgement to Change
In 2015, scientists decided to study the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain area that defines threatening expressions. The primary function of this brain section is to analyze other peoples’ faces and judge their intentions. The participants were tested, then spent a night without sleep and then tested again. After only one night of sleep deprivation, the ability to judge expressions dropped significantly. Some of the same faces that the participant initially judged friendly became threatening. The researchers could easily observe a general tendency to judge faces more menacing after sleep deprivation.
Negative Emotions Arise from Lack of Sleep
In another study, adolescents have been restricted to 4 hours of sleep for 2 consecutive nights. The following day, they expressed significantly more negative emotions during regular social interactions. Their pupil dilation speed also changed. Pupil dilation is a standard measure for mental effort and arousal. When hearing unpleasant sounds, their pupils dilated much more aggressively compared to subjects without sleep deprivation.
Ability To Recognise Emotions
Lastly, a scientific review from 2015 concluded that sleep deprivation negatively affects the ability to recognize others’ emotions. This has also been associated with higher emotional reactivity. This means that sleep deprivation inhibits your capacity to empathize with others, and amplifies your emotional reactions.
Effects of Sleep and Social Interactions
All this research clearly shows a correlation between sleep deprivation and worse social interactions. It is recommended to sleep from 7 to 9 hours a night, any less will negatively impact your relationships. In simple terms, a lack of sleep (especially if recurrent) will change the perception your peers have of you as more hostile, it is going to make you more negative, and it will impair your ability to recognize what others are feeling. This means you will be more hostile with people, you will generally feel worse and you won’t be able to empathize with your peers.
Using Sleep To Boost Your Relationships
As we have seen, lack of sleep is dangerous for your well being, both physical and social. Luckily, on the other hand, proper rest can be used as a tool to facilitate better social interactions and improve personal connection. More adequate sleep will raise your awareness during the day, it will keep you energetic, and it will just make you feel better. Going more in depth, proper sleep strengthens those abilities that sleep deprivation damages. In particular, you will become better at reading facial expressions, you will discourage the rise of negative emotions as well as emotional hyper-reactivity, and you will become more empathic with the people around you.
Ways to Get Better Sleep
Proper, regular sleep can be a real superpower, but getting there might be more complicated than what you expect. We prepared a list of 5 tips to help you on your journey.
1 Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise, among its many benefits, promotes good quality of sleep. In some cases (especially office workers) falling asleep is not easy because your body doesn’t need the physical reset in the first place. If your energy levels are too high, your way to sweet dreams might be much more difficult. With regular physical activity, you will make sure to spend enough energy during the day. Your eyes will close faster, and your sleep will be more profound.
2 Set a “Stop Technology” Alarm
Today everyone spends a lot of time in front of computer monitors, phone screens or televisions. We are animals, and our brain is designed to sleep when it is dark. The light coming from the screens (especially blue light) excites your mind and might delay your sleep up to even 2 hours. For this reason, it is good practice to set a time-limit at night for screen usage. Your safest bet is to set the limit around 2 hours before going to sleep, but you will have to play with different times and see what works for you.
3 Watch The Temperature
Temperature can be a crucial factor when trying to relax. The temperature of your room should make you feel comfortable and cozy in your bed. This will usually happen at our 20 °C (68 ° F), but as in the previous point, try different options and see what feels best to you.
4 Consider Investing In a Good Mattress
A good mattress is going to pay itself in the long run. Finding the perfect mattress for you will be difficult, and we cannot give any advice. What we can say, however, is that your general health can only benefit for a mattress that suits you well.
5 Build Rituals
Humans love routines and repetitions, they make life easier. Building some kind of routine to do before going to bed will tell your body it is time to slow down, and you will arrive on your bed all relaxed and ready to sleep.