Lack of sleep, unfortunately, affects us in our daily lives. Beyond the fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability or clumsiness that produces not enough sleep, there are also studies that support that lack of sleep increases susceptibility to colds and chronic diseases. But now we know more about lack of sleep: new research from the University of British Columbia (UBC) points out that not getting enough sleep can also take away your joy of life. Or, at least, it makes you less positive about life.

The study, conducted by assistant professor and psychologist Nancy Sin, was based on surveys of nearly 2,000 adults between the ages of 22 and 84. A pre-assessment was made of the participants’ situation, and then Sin and her team analyzed the duration of sleep and how people responded to negative and positive situations the next day. “Participants reported their experiences and the amount of sleep they had had the previous night in daily telephone interviews over eight days,” they explain from UBC.

The research concludes that the amount of sleep and the positivity of people are closely related. That is, a person with a lack of sleep will tend to be more emotional and will have a hard time dealing with the positive and negative events of the day. While a person with good sleep will experience positive events as even better.

“When people experience something positive, like getting a hug or spending time in nature, they usually feel happier that day,” says Sin. “But we find that when a person sleeps less than usual, they don’t have as much momentum in the positive emotions of their positive events.

“Even minor fluctuations from one night to the next in sleep duration can have consequences on how people respond to events in their daily lives,” added the psychologist.

Although lack of sleep does seem to affect the positivity with which we face life, the study found no link between sleep duration and negativity. So this “suggests” that sleep is very important for positivity, according to Sin’s team in their study. They also wanted to see if reactions to the day’s events predicted the quality of subsequent sleep, as there are earlier studies that say yes and others that say no. In the case of Sin and his colleagues, they have not been able to confirm this.

Chronically ill and lack of sleep

While lack of sleep causes us to be less positive, the study indicates that the opposite effect also occurs. That is, a prolonged sleep makes positive events seem even better and protects from the effects of daily stress. Sin and his team have also found that the effects are even greater in people with chronic health problems. These problems are often related to heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain or cancer.

“We were also interested in knowing if adults with chronic diseases could gain even more benefit from sleep than healthy adults. For those with chronic health problems, we found that sleeping longer, compared to usual sleep duration, resulted in better responses to positive experiences the next day.

Study limitations

Not all studies are perfect. And those based on questionnaires and, therefore, on the memory of the subjects, less so. Memory is not always accurate, which is a problem. In addition, the number of days, only eight, on which it has been carried out is also a limitation, these studies should be carried out for longer. Further research will be needed to confirm these conclusions.

Despite this, the study is “one of the first to examine the impacts of sleep in a natural environment, as opposed to laboratory conditions. And its data could be useful for future research looking at long-term outcomes.

“The recommended guideline for a good night’s sleep is at least seven hours. But one in three adults does not meet this standard. Much research has shown that inadequate sleep increases the risk of mental disorders, chronic disease and premature death. My study adds to this evidence by showing that even minor fluctuations from one night to the next in sleep duration can have consequences on how people respond to events in their daily lives”.

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