Lack of Sleep Stops People From Helping Others in Need, Says Study | ‘A Clear Hit On Our Innate Human Kindness'

Lack of Sleep Stops People From Helping Others in Need, Says Study | ‘A Clear Hit On Our Innate Human Kindness'

"How we operate as a social species - and we are a social species - seems profoundly dependent on how much sleep we are getting," said Dr. Eti Ben Simon, a research scientist.

Over the years, studies have proven that lack of sleep causes mental and physical damage, and people can develop conditions like insomnia and anxiety which affect concentration and daily tasks. Taking this further, a recent study found that insufficient sleep also affects a person's basic conscience apart from increasing the risk of heart disease, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure, reported Newsweek.



American scientists have taken a step ahead in the research related to sleep and its effect on our health with a study proving that insufficient sleep also affects the social and moral compass of a person along with mental and physical health. According to the data acquired by American researchers, lack of sleep degrades the quality of helping other people and develops selfish characteristics. The study, published in PLOS Biology journal, stated that inadequate sleep represents a significant influential force determining whether humans choose to help one another. Sleep loss triggers the withdrawal of help from one individual to another and gradually degrades the importance of a social and moral compass.

Representative Image Source: Getty Images | Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm
Representative Image Source: Getty Images | Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm


The study is conducted by Dr. Eti Ben Simon and Professor Matthew Walker, research scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. In the study, Professor Walker stated, "This new work demonstrates that a lack of sleep not only damages the health of an individual but degrades social interactions between individuals and 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."

Adding to Professor Walker, Dr. 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 well-being, it hurts the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers."



The reports disclose three separate studies, describing the impact of sleep loss and how it compromises people's willingness to help others. The first study included 24 healthy volunteers whose fMRI scans were taken after eight hours of sleep and after a night of no sleep. The scans showcased that the sections of the brain that create the theory of the mind network, which functions when an individual empathizes with others or tries to understand other people's wants and needs, were less active after a sleepless night.



"When we think about other people, this network engages and allows us to comprehend what other person's needs are: What are they thinking about? Are they in pain? Do they need help? However, this network was markedly impaired when individuals were sleep deprived. It's as though these parts of the brain fail to respond when we are trying to interact with other people after not getting enough sleep," explained Dr. Simon.

In the second study, they observed more than 100 people online over three-four nights and they took note of details such as the hours, the quality of sleep the volunteers were getting, and how many times they woke up, and calculated their desire to help others during their daily social interaction. 



"Those with poor sleep the night prior were the ones that reported being less willing and keen to help others the following day," reported Dr. Simon.

The last part of the study included a database of 3 million charitable donations in the US from 2001-2016. The researchers observed a 10 percent drop in donations due to the same reason.

"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 for how we live together as a social species," concluded Dr. Simon.




Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images| Adam Kuylenstierna

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