Sleep Deprived? You May Not Be Able to Put on a Happy Face
More and more evidence suggests a lack of sleep takes a toll on mental as well as physical health. Insufficient sleep is no small problem: Experts estimate that more than one-third of U.S. adults don’t get enough sleep. Lack of shut-eye increases your risk for health problems including diabetes and heart disease and, according to a study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research, also robs you of your ability to stay positive.
For the small study, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania randomized 40 healthy adults to either stay awake for 28 consecutive hours or get a full eight hours of sleep. Study participants then completed a computer test designed to assess their attention to positive or negative information by measuring their ability to identify happy, sad, and neutral faces.
Researchers discovered that the sleep-deprived individuals were less likely to focus on happy faces indicating a loss of positivity. Interestingly, they also found that people with a history of insomnia were less sensitive to the effects of sleep loss, perhaps because they developed coping mechanisms over time. While the ability to stay positive has obvious benefits for all of us, it’s especially important for people living with depression and/or anxiety, according to the researchers.