Our busy lives can often cause sleep to become a low priority. Many people sacrifice their sleep for work or other activities, thinking that they can make up for it later. However, consistent sleep loss can lead to various problems – one of which is a decline in our natural generosity and the desire to help others.
Studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to reduced levels of empathy, compassion and an overall reduction in altruism. Here’s a look at how sleep loss affects generosity and our willingness to help others.
Irritability Levels Increase
Losing sleep can lead to irritability and impatience, making it harder for us to engage in generous and helpful behaviors. This change in mood can occur after only one night of sleep loss, making it challenging to be kind and generous to others.
Empathy, the ability to connect emotionally with others’ feelings, thoughts or experiences, can decrease due to sleep loss. Empathy allows us to better understand how people feel and what they are going through, which can influence our willingness to help them. A lack of empathy caused by sleep loss makes it challenging to understand others, leading to a decrease in how often we help them.
Decreased Willingness to Share
Sleep loss can decrease our desire to share resources with others. A study conducted by UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory found that sleep deprivation led to decreased activity in the brain’s reward center. This area of the brain is responsible for giving us a good feeling when we do something good for ourselves or others, making it less attractive to share with others.
Lower Inclination to Cooperate
Sleep deprivation also reduces our ability to cooperate with others. A study published by the Journal of Neuroscience found that lack of sleep can affect our social behavior, making it harder to work together with others to achieve a common goal.
What Can We Do?
Getting enough restful and quality sleep is essential as it helps recharge our bodies and restores our cognitive abilities. A good night’s sleep can help us feel better, improve our mood, and elevate our desire to help others. Here are some tips that can improve your sleep quality:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule: aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially before bedtime.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment: make sure your bedroom is peaceful, comfortable, and dark.
- Establish a sleep-conducive environment: use a fan to regulate temperature, a white noise machine to block out noise, or soft music to help you relax.
- Keep electronics out of the bedroom: the blue light from screens can inhibit the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep.
In conclusion, sleep loss can diminish our ability to be a better person. By prioritizing and getting quality and restful sleep, individuals can enhance their ability to be more empathic, sharing, and cooperative, leading to healthier and happier relationships.
If you’re regularly struggling to get a quality night of sleep, contact a sleep specialist.