Much of what we see on the news is negative, and these days it’s even more so. If you’re not getting enough sleep, everything seems even worse.
New research shows that we perceive neutral items far more negatively when we haven’t slept well. In the study, participants were tested the morning after five nights of regular sleep and five nights when they only got five hours of sleep each night.
The subjects perceived pleasant and neutral pictures in a more negative way in the sleep‐restriction condition compared to the sleep condition. This effect survived after removing the contribution of mood changes. In contrast, there was no significant difference between conditions for ratings of unpleasant pictures.
These results provide the first evidence that an inadequate amount of sleep for five consecutive nights determines an alteration of the evaluation of pleasant and neutral stimuli, imposing a negative emotional bias. Considering the pervasiveness of insufficient sleep in modern society, our results have potential implications for daily life, as well as in clinical settings.
“Considering the pervasiveness of insufficient sleep in modern society, our results have potential implications for daily life, as well as in clinical settings,” said lead author Daniela Tempesta, PhD, of the University of L’Aquila, in Italy.