6 Ways a Poor Night's Sleep Messes with You

Have you ever considered all of the ways just a single poor night of sleep may be messing with you?

This post originally appeared in the Newton blog on RealClearScience. You can read the original here


We all know how we feel when sleep-deprived: tired, groggy, and grumpy. But have you ever considered all of the ways just a single poor night of sleep may be messing with you? Science has revealed a great many ramifications that you've probably never thought of.

1. You're more depressed and anxious. In 2008, researchers assessed 226 individuals who had six or more hours of sleep the previous night and 112 individuals who had less. The "poor sleep" group scored significantly higher in levels of stress, depression, and anxiety compared to those that slept longer.

2. You pee more the next night. During the night, urine production naturally declines, permitting us to achieve uninterrupted sleep. But if you're sleep deprived from the night before, this mechanism doesn't work as efficiently. Examining 10 male and 10 female subjects over a 48-hour period, scientists found that when sleep deprived, both genders produce "markedly" larger amounts of urine, potentially translating to additional nighttime visits to the bathroom.

3. You eat more, and more unhealthily. What happens if young men get four hours of sleep instead of eight? They consume about 560 additional calories the following day. Moreover, when both men and women are sleep-deprived, they choose foods like pizza or doughnuts over healthier fare. According to researchers at Berkeley, a lack of sleep seems to dampen activity in the brain's frontal lobe -- an area tied to complex decision-making -- and elevates activity in the reward centers.

4. If you're a man, you think that women want to have sex with you. Compared with rested men, men deprived of sleep for one night rate women as more interested in having sex. The researchers warn that this more risqué perception could lead to increased incidents of inappropriate advances and sexual harassment.

5. You look sadder and less attractive. In two separate studies undertaken by Tina Sundelin at Stockholm University, untrained observers compared photographs of subjects who had been awake for 31 hours with photos of the same subjects after eight hours of sleep the night before. Observers were blinded to the conditions and viewed the pictures in random order. In the first study, observers rated sleep-deprived people as less attractive. In the second study, sleep-deprived people were deemed to looker sadder.

6. You feel more excluded. According to sleep researcher Tina Sundelin, "Pretty much everyone gets upset if they feel others are excluding them, but... a sleep-deprived person reacts even more strongly to social exclusion than their well-rested peers do."

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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