The Less You Sleep, The More Selfish You Will Be: Study

New Delhi: Lack of sleep is already known to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But now, it has been found that it can bring to the fore your selfish streak too.

It sounds unbelievable but the fact is that lack of sleep makes people more selfish. American researchers found that when people are deprived of shut-eye, they have a decreased desire to help others. The study was published in the journal  PLoSBiology. The new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, reveals that a lack of sleep blunts the fundamental human attribute, with real-world consequences.  New research shows that lack of sleep impairs our basic social conscience, making us withdraw our desire and willingness to help other people.

The study, led by UC Berkeley research scientist Dr Eti Ben Simon and Professor Matthew Walker, adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that inadequate sleep not only harms a person’s mental and physical well-being but also compromises the bonds between individuals – and even the altruistic sentiment of an entire nation.

Walker said: “Over the past 20 years, we have discovered a very intimate link between our sleep health and our mental health. Indeed, we’ve not been able to discover a single major psychiatric condition in which sleep is normal,” News18 reported.

“But this new work demonstrates that a lack of sleep not only damages the health of an individual, but degrades social interactions between individuals and, furthermore, degrades the very fabric of human society itself. How we operate as a social species – and we are a social species-seems profoundly dependent on how much sleep we are getting.”

Simon said: “We’re starting to see more and more studies, including this one, where the effects of sleep loss don’t just stop at the individual, but propagate to those around us. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it doesn’t just hurt your own well-being, it hurts the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers.”

The new report describes three separate studies that assessed the impact of sleep loss on people’s willingness to help others.

Walker said: “Even a very modest ‘dose’ of sleep deprivation – here, just the loss of one single hour of sleep opportunity linked to Daylight Saving Time – has a very measurable and very real impact on people’s generosity and, therefore, how we function as a connected society.

“When people lose one hour of sleep, there’s a clear hit on our innate human kindness and our motivation to help other people in need. Looking at the big picture, we’re starting to see that a lack of sleep results in a quite asocial and, from a helping perspective, anti-social individual, which has manifold consequences to how we live together as a social species.

“A lack of sleep makes people less empathetic, less generous, more socially withdrawn, and it’s infectious-there is contagion of loneliness.

“The realization that the quantity and quality of sleep affects an entire society, caused by an impairment in prosocial behavior, may provide insights into our societal state of affairs in the present day.”

The researchers say that their findings also offer a fresh approach to improving specific aspects of our society.

According to Simon, “Promoting sleep, rather than shaming people for sleeping enough, could very palpably help shape the social bonds we all experience every day.”

“Sleep, it turns out, is an incredible lubricant to prosocial, connected, empathic, kind and generous human behavior. In these divisive times, if there was ever a need for a strong, prosocial lubricant to enable the very best version of ourselves within society, now seems to be it. Sleep may be a wonderful ingredient that enables the alacrity of helping between human beings,” Simon was quoted as saying.

“Sleep is essential for all aspects of our physical, mental and emotional lives. When sleep is undervalued in society, not only do we get sleep-deprived doctors, nurses and students, but we also suffer from unkind and less empathic interactions on a daily basis.”

“It is time as a society to abandon the idea that sleep is unnecessary or a waste and, without feeling embarrassed, start getting the sleep that we need. It is the best form of kindness we can offer ourselves, as well as the people around us.”

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