A new study finds that sleep-deprived people feel lonelier and less inclined to engage with others, avoiding close contact much like those with social anxiety.
Worse still, that alienating vibe makes the sleep-deprived more socially unattractive to others, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. And well-rested people feel lonely after just a brief encounter with a sleep-deprived person, potentially triggering a viral contagion of social isolation.
The study appears in the journal Nature Communications.
“We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers,” said study senior author Matthew Walker, Ph.D., a UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience.
Notably, researchers found that brain scans of sleep-deprived people as they viewed video clips of strangers walking toward them showed powerful social repulsion activity in neural networks that are typically activated when humans feel their personal space is being invaded.