Sleep deprivation makes people selfish and less generous

“Promoting sleep, rather than shaming people for getting enough sleep, would help in very tangible ways to shape the social bonds we experience every day,” said Ben Simon.

“It turns out that sleep is an incredible lubricant for prosocial, connected, empathic, kind and giving human behavior. If ever there was a need for a strong prosocial lubricant to enable society to be the best possible version of ourselves, it seems it has to be now, in this divisive moment,” Walker said. “Sleep may be a miraculous ingredient that allows enthusiasm to help among human beings.”

“Sleep is essential to all aspects of our physical, mental and emotional lives,” said Ben Simon. “When sleep is undervalued in society, not only do we have sleep-deprived doctors, nurses and students, but we also experience unpleasant and less empathetic interactions on a daily basis.”

In industrialized countries, more than half of the population report that they do not get enough sleep during the work week.

“It is time that, as a society, we abandon the idea that sleep is unnecessary or a waste of time and start getting the sleep we need without feeling ashamed,” said Ben Simon. “It is the best form of kindness that we can give to ourselves and also to those around us,” he added.

The study by Ben Simon, Walker and their UC Berkeley colleagues Raphael Vallat and Aubrey Rossi is published in PLOS Biology. This article is based on a UC Berkeley press release.

Gabrielle Rhodes

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