In a study published on 14 August 2018, researchers Eti Ben Simon and Matthew P Walker unveiled four interesting connections between sleep and loneliness.
In our last blog we examined the first two connections that their research unveiled between sleep and feelings of loneliness.
In this blog we look at the last two connections their research made between sleep and social isolation.
Firstly, a sleep-deprived, lonely person becomes less likely to allow people to come into contact with them as they choose to increase their social distance.
The study showed that when people are sleep-deprived, lonely people are more inclined to keep a greater physical distance from others, compared to when they are fully rested. The energy needed to interact is just too great- they do not want people in their space and definitely do not want to be touched. This increases their feeling of loneliness and social isolation.
Secondly, well-rested people are less likely to want to get close or interact with a sleep-deprived person.
The researchers commented that sleep-deprived people may give off a lonely vibe and are also judged by others to be lonelier and less socially “attractive” when compared with pictures of their fully rested selves. So not only are the sleep-deprived people avoiding society, but society is more likely to avoid them too. This sets up a vicious cycle of social isolation.
This small study may have unveiled a link between the rise of sleep deprivation and the rise of social isolation and loneliness in our modern society. Sleep boosts our mood, our appearance and our social attractiveness and sleep loss impacts more than ourselves- it impacts all those around us.
Get to bed if you want to get out into the world- bright and bushy tailed.
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In 2012, Till Roenneberg, PhD, a professor at the Institute of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich coined the term “social jetlag” to describe the sleep debt that people face whose sleep schedules do not fit into the socially-typical norms. Social jetlag has also been described as “the discrepancy between work and free days, between social and biological time”.
For example, let’s say Kyle’s biological clock is wired to make him feel sleepy at midnight and wake up at 8am each morning. This would give him the 8 hours of sleep he needs to feel rested and happy. However, to get to work on time, he needs to set an alarm to wake him up at 6am.
Roenneberg would describe Kyle’s sleep pattern as having a ‘two hour social jetlag’. Kyle is losing 2 hours of sleep each work night and suffering from sleep deprivation. On free days he would revert to sleeping until 8am (or later) to catch up on the sleep debt that he has accrued over the work week.
Studies have shown that social jetlag has a detrimental impact on physical and psychological health as well as workplace productivity:
- For every hour of social jet lag, the risk of being overweight or obese rises about 33%
- For every hour of social jet lag, there is also an 11-percent increase in the likelihood of heart disease (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease).
- Social jetlag also increases your risk of developing metabolic diseases such as diabetes
- There is also a strong correlation to worse mood and increased sleepiness and fatigue.
- Those who experience social jetlag are more likely to use substances such as caffeine and nicotine to sustain an alert state outside of biological norms. This has its own negative health effects.
What is clear is that not getting enough sleep as well as getting poorly timed sleep causes life-threatening illnesses. Visit www.sealy.co.za to see how loving your bed could help you love your sleep more.