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According to research fielded by the Better Sleep Council (BSC), poor sleep is closely correlated with feelings of isolation. Unfortunately, poor sleepers may struggle even more with emotional loneliness in the coming weeks because so many holiday traditions call for gathering with family and friends.
The State of America’s Sleep study asked individuals several questions related to sleep quality. Based on their answers, we assigned them a Sleep Index score. While one in three (33%) American adults earn a score that qualifies them as excellent sleepers, more than half (56%) fall into the poor sleeper category.
A deeper dive into the data looked for other traits common to poor sleepers that are not prevalent in other sleep groups. It turns out, poor sleepers have a greater difficulty establishing interpersonal relationships and navigating social situations – which ultimately leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
According to BSC research, nearly half of poor sleepers (46%) wish they had more friends. Contrast that with 61% of excellent sleepers reporting that they enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with people outside of their family. Poor sleepers are also 1.5 times more likely than excellent sleepers to say they want to go out, but don’t have anyone to join them.
“How connected we feel to our fellow humans affects happiness, but it also impacts physical health,” said Ellen Wermter, board-certified family nurse practitioner. “Those who are lonely and more socially isolated have higher mortality rates. The BSC surveys show that poor sleep and loneliness go hand in hand, findings that are consistent with previous research on sleep and relationships. Those reporting difficulty with their sleep were more likely to also report struggling to initiate and maintain friendships. Strong social bonds are imperative to health and well-being.”
Whether it’s Thanksgiving dinner with extended family or the obligatory office holiday party, poor sleepers are apt to struggle in a group setting. Research reports poor sleepers are 1.77 times more likely than other groups to have difficulty in social situations.
Everyone has probably experienced a time where they were surrounded by people, but still felt alone or isolated. This is a regular scenario for poor sleepers. The additional exposure to social functions during the holidays can amp up the stress.
It would be easy to think social media could help lonely people feel more connected, but it’s just the opposite. The study linked using social media just before bed to loneliness – people who report feeling isolated are 12% more likely to check their social channels than other sleep groups.
“Most of us can relate to being irritable and less tolerant of others when we’ve experienced a rough night, added Wermter. “Mood changes from poor sleep create distance between us and those around us, conflict and anxiety. Social media use close to bedtime only seems to intensify the problem. These findings suggest that sleep quality makes a difference in how isolated a person feels. Poor nights happen to everyone from time to time, but good sleep habits and a comfortable sleep environment create more consistent sleep patterns.”
If distance keeps you away from family or friends during the holidays, social technology like video chat, can be useful to help you stay in touch. However, staying up to scroll pages and pages of other people at holiday parties will only lead to feelings of FOMO and screen time just prior to sleeping could lead to insomnia. Try limiting your screen time at least an hour before bedtime and avoid checking your phone once you’re in bed.
While you won’t probably won’t wake up and suddenly have a crowd of new friends or feel instantly compelled to karaoke “All I Want for Christmas” at the next colleague happy hour, a good night’s rest on a comfortable mattress and a consistent bedtime routine, will help you get the most out of the season.
Consistent, restful sleep can work to quell negative feelings, and change perceptions about yourself and how you relate to others. That’s true during the holidays and throughout the year.Do the holidays get you down? It could be that you’re just overtired. Learn why from @BetterSleepOrg.
This blog provides general information about sleep and sleep products. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified heath care professional. This blog should not be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care professional. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health or the health of others. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere on bettersleep.org. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.