It’s no secret that a lack of sleep can make you grumpy, but now new research suggests that poor rest can also make you more selfish.
Data published recently in the journal PLOS Biology found a correlation between lack of sleep and selfishness. The study was conducted by specialists from the University of California at Berkeley and included data from three previous studies.
All studies have shown that people become more selfish after sleep deprivation or disturbed sleep.
The first study looked at the brains of 24 people after a night of good sleep and a night of sleep deprivation. Participants were asked to complete a helping behavior questionnaire, which asked them to indicate what they would do in difficult situations – for example, if they saw an injured animal on the side of the road or if they offered their seat to an elderly person on a crowded bus.
The researchers also performed MRI scans on their brains while they performed a social cognition task that required them to view “controlled information cards with images of various adults in the US” and identify the nature of the silhouettes on the cards. In an MRI, the parts of the brain associated with empathy were less active after a night without sleep.
In addition, participants overall “demonstrated a significant decrease in willingness to help others when sleep-deprived,” according to the study.
The second study tracked more than 100 people online for three to four nights using self-reported information, measuring how much and how well they slept. The survey asked participants how many times they woke up, how many hours they slept, what time they woke up, and more. As expected, the results showed that a night of poor sleep led to a decreased desire to help other people.
A third study examined the impact of daylight saving time on charitable giving by analyzing nationwide giving data from 2001 to 2016. This study found that “the change to daylight saving time was associated with a significant decrease in the altruistic decision to give money (making donations) compared to the weeks before or after the change.”
Even losing one hour of sleep, as in the daylight savings study, seemed to worsen the mood of the study subjects. Specifically, the study states that “impaired positive mood may affect helping, in part by reducing empathic sensitivity to the needs and suffering of others.”
Altruism is an important health benefit.
All that being said, if you don’t sleep well, you won’t be your best and selfless self is a vital asset that can improve your well-being.
Research shows that helping others can lead to less stress for the person doing the philanthropy and even being associated with reducing the level of inflammation in the body. Helping others not only makes you feel good, but it can also be good for you physically.
If you want to sleep better, avoid screens before bed.
Blue light from TV or phone may keep you up at night — Blue light has been proven to suppress melatonin, the hormone your body needs to fall asleep.
Plus, looking at your phone keeps your brain from shutting down after a long day.
Doctor Sasha Hamdaniboard certified psychiatrist and ADHD clinical specialist, HuffPost previously reported that when we go on social media or turn on the TV, “we’re looking for the dopamine release that happens when we see something exciting or interesting.”
“When your brain is engaged and active, it’s less likely to shut down,” she said.
To help yourself fall asleep, think about nature.
Nature is a natural stress reliever, so thinking about the great outdoors can help you fall asleep, says Jeffrey Durmer, a board-certified sleep physician and coach of the US Olympic weightlifting team.
You can either try drifting off to sleep with thoughts of sparkling lakes and chirping birds, or if that doesn’t work, you can spend some time before bed “on the porch, patio, or deck to allow the darkness and quiet to resonate in your mind , not light and noise,” he said HuffPost previously reported.
It is also important to have a proper bedtime routine.
Routines are critical to your day and just as important to a good night’s sleep.
If you don’t have a rest routine that works for you, you should consider creating one, says Carly Prendergast, a certified sleep science coach and sleep expert. HuffPost previously reported.
“You might want to think about going to bed around the same time every night. This can help establish the circadian rhythm – the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Other calming activities can include taking a warm bath, taking care of your skin, reading a book, etc.,” she said.
A good bedtime routine can look different for everyone, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, you should try to incorporate some calming activities into your evening.
Before you know it, you may just be falling asleep faster and getting more restful sleep, which benefits not only you, but those around you as well.