Restful Sleep May Make People Kinder

Sleeping well equates to giving more.


Sleep, Study, Kindness
Giving increases when you wake up rested.

(Lopolo /

A good night’s sleep is refreshing and energizing. It is also healing for the body and mind. Getting enough shut-eye is also good for the soul; the more you sleep, the more you desire to give, revealed a recent study in PLOS Biology from UC Berkeley.

Led by research scientist Eti Ben Simon and psychology professor Matthew Walker, the study comprised three separate sleep studies: one on the individual, one on a group, and one on society at large, according to a news release from the university.  

On an individual level, they recognized that just one single night of sleep loss may trigger refusal to help another person. They recorded the same results when studying brain imaging of 24 people, observing that sleep loss in participants led to less of a desire to help others.

Sleeping more may lead to donating more 
At a national level, the researchers reviewed  3 million charitable donations over 15 years, both the month before and the month after April Daylight Savings Time (DST). The results are astounding. Losing just one hour of sleep resulted in a 10 percent reduction in donations.

To further prove this, there were no recorded drops in donations in American states that do not implement DST, according to CNN

“When people lose one hour of sleep, there's a clear hit on our innate human kindness and our motivation to help other people in need,” Walker told CNN.

Sleep loss negatively affects the prosocial neural network, an area in the brain that is connected to theory of mind. Developed early on in childhood, this part of the brain is associated with empathy, understanding the needs of others, as well as their emotions.

This study shows that getting too little sleep has repercussions not just on a personal level, but on a societal level. “If you're not getting enough sleep, it doesn't just hurt your own well-being, it hurts the well-being of your entire social circle, including strangers,” Ben Simon told Berkeley News

This is an important finding, considering that more than half of people in developed countries do not get enough sleep during the work week, according to Berkeley News.

In a previous study in Nature Communications, Ben Simon and Walker also show that lack of sleep also results in social withdrawal, isolation, and feelings of loneliness. And when those who lack sleep interact with others, they then tend to spread their feelings of loneliness to others.

Sleep improves social interactions
Sleep is of ultimate importance for one’s health and sense of well-being, as well as for those with whom we interact. “It degrades social interactions between individuals and, furthermore, degrades the very fabric of human society itself. How we operate as a social species—and we are a social species—seems profoundly dependent on how much sleep we are getting,” Walker told Berkeley News.

The hope is that people will understand that sleeping a full night does not equate to laziness, a stigma that a fast-paced modern world has adopted. “Promoting sleep, rather than shaming people for sleeping enough, could very palpably help shape the social bonds we all experience every day,” Ben Simon told Berkeley News. She explained that sleep-deprived doctors, nurses, and students result in less kind and empathic interactions.

If you want to promote kindness, giving, and positive social interactions, simply turn out the lights earlier at night, and get some well-deserved sleep. One ingredient for living a meaningful and fulfilling life, could be connecting with your pillow!

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