Sleep deprivation can take a toll on our bodies and minds in many ways. From a lack of focus to an increased risk of accidents at work, getting enough sleep is important for properly functioning on a day-to-day basis. But, it turns out that a lack of sleep can impact our perceptions of others as well.
A recent study from Uppsala University discovered that when young adults don’t get enough sleep, they are more likely to evaluate angry facial expressions as less trustworthy in interactions with others. This could have far-reaching implications in regard to the relationship between sleep and mental health.
Uppsala University in Sweden experimented on 45 young men and women using eye-tracking, a technology that can detect what a person is looking at in real-time. These participants spent one night with eight hours of sleep and one night with no sleep at all.
The researchers studied their eye movements during interactions in the mornings following each night. It was found that participants spent less time fixating on faces when sleep deprived, leading researchers to believe that sleep deprivation can cause individuals to interpret the emotional state of others too late or inaccurately.
Sleep-deprived research subjects also rated angry faces as less trustworthy and healthy-looking, and neutral and fearful faces as less attractive.
The Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop throughout the night, resulting in snoring, daytime sleepiness, and more. Related to negative impressions of others, those experiencing OSA symptoms may misinterpret the emotions of others, or generally feel more irritable toward others throughout the day.
As you can imagine, feeling constantly exhausted makes it difficult to be a good friend, partner, parent, or employee. Heightened irritability due to sleep deprivation can put a strain on any relationship, and these interpersonal issues only complicate the physical problems that can stem from sleep apnea. As highlighted in the study, interactions with complete strangers can be affected by a loss of sleep, so it would be easy to infer that it could impact closer relationships as well.
When It’s Time to See a Doctor
If sleep apnea symptoms like daytime sleepiness and irritability are feeling persistent, and changes to your sleep habits aren’t helping, it may be time to address your symptoms with a doctor.
If you live in the Atlanta area, Dr. Jeff Rodgers can help treat sleep apnea. Using a small oral device made just for you that’s worn to bed, it will be easier to breathe and get the quality of sleep you deserve.
Request an appointment at Sleep Better Georgia today to learn more about oral appliance therapy.