Study shows lack of sleep saps our happiness

Lack of sleep makes us feel slow and tired. However, it can also lead to chronic unhappiness, according to a new study.

The newly published results, found in Cognitive Therapy and Research, show a link between sleep deprivation and positive thinking.

“In general, we have a tendency to notice positive stimuli in our environment,” said Fellowlvan Vargas, Ph.D, the lead scientist in this study. “We tend to focus on positive things more than anything else, but now we’re seeing that sleep deprivation may reverse that bias.”


What Happens When You Don’t Sleep For 28 Hours?

Dr. Fellowlvan Vargas studied what happened to 40 healthy adults when they had their sleep schedules altered. Some subjects stayed awake for 28 straight hours. Others had a full eight hours of sleep. Both groups took a test to measure their accuracy and response time to identify happy, sad and neutral faces.

The test results showed the sleep-deprived subjects focused less on the happy faces. Vargas noted the significance of these results, especially for people with depression or anxiety.

Depression is typically characterized as the tendency to think and feel more negatively or sad, but more than that, depression is associated with feeling less positive, less able to feel happy,” Vargas told Science Daily. “Similarly, if you don’t get enough sleep, it reduces your ability to attend to positive things, which over time may confer risk for depression.”

Lack Of Sleep A Growing Problem In U.S.

How much of a problem is sleep deprivation for the U.S.? Well, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified lack of sleep as a “public health epidemic.” The CDC reports an estimated 50 to 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep or wakefulness disorder—for example, conditions such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.

Other factors contributing to lack of sleep include:

  • Physical factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression
  • Round-the-clock access to technology
  • Long work schedules
  • Insomnia

The most recent study on sleep behavior from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey showed more than 35 percent of people got less than seven hours of nightly sleep. This leads to side effects such as unintentionally falling asleep during the day, including while driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the U.S.

So, make time in your schedule to get some extra sleep. It’s good for your spirit and your safety!