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Why Interrupted Sleep Makes You Grumpy

New parents and on-call health workers know what its like to be awakened multiple times per night. They’re likely to be in a bad mood the next day even when the overall amount of sleep they get equals that of people who go to bed late but sleep through the night. Researchers at Johns Hopkins enrolled 62 healthy men and women for a sleep study that measured their moods after 3 consecutive nights of either forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes or uninterrupted sleep. After the first sleep period, the participants who were awakened eight times during the night and those whose bedtimes were delayed were in bad moods. But after the second night those whose bedtimes were delayed had a 12 percent reduction in positive mood, while those who were awakened had a 31 percent reduction. Tests showed that the participants who were awakened had shorter periods of deep-slow wave sleep compared to those in the delayed bedtime group. This difference had a statistically significant association with the participants’ bad mood. The researchers also reported that interrupted sleep reduced feelings of sympathy and friendliness toward others, as well as energy levels. In addition to new parents and health care workers, insomnia itself often involves interrupted sleep, and an estimated 10 percent of the U.S. adult population is affected. If you can’t blame interrupted sleep on a crying baby or a medical emergency, consider whether heat, light or noise is a factor and take corrective measures. And take a nap the next day if you can.

Lack of Sleep Affects How Others See You

You know how lack of sleep can make you feel and may agree that you don’t always look your best when you don’t get enough shut-eye. Now a study from Stockholm University has found that lack of sleep also affects how others view you and may even put you at a disadvantage when you’re looking for a job. Researcher Tina Sundelin, Ph.D. reported that sleep deprived people are often perceived as less energetic, less healthy, and less attractive than others, and that some individuals are less willing to spend time with a person who looks tired. She also found that looking tired presents a risk of being unsuccessful finding a job. Dr. Sundelin conducted four different studies in which she showed photographs of people who had obtained varying amounts of sleep to others who assessed them for attractiveness, health, reliability, leadership, employability, and how much they wanted to spend time with the person in the photo. When someone in the photos looked tired, they were viewed more negatively and rated lower than when the same individual looked alert. The study concluded that, especially given how others may view you, getting adequate sleep is more important than postponing bedtime to do work, watch TV or spend time online.