In bad news for folks who already feel that everyone’s having more fun than they are, an intriguing new study out of the University of Chicago suggests that people who feel lonelier are more likely to have restless sleep.
It’s not because they’re depressed, anxious or stressed out either. Nighttime awakenings and interruptions were linked with loneliness regardless of mood. Nor do lonely, fitful sleepers report having worse sleep than other people. Overall, they get about the same amount of sleep and they don’t feel more tired the next day. Nevertheless, sensors strapped to their wrists record that they toss and turn and wake up more often during the night.
The findings could help explain why lonely people tend to have more health problems on the whole, including depression, high blood pressure and higher risk of heart disease in women. Previous research suggests that sleep disruptions may lead to biological changes that could worsen health.
And loneliness, mind you, results from feelings of social isolation, not actual isolation. Some people live in a vibrantly social community, have a large a family and boatloads of “likes” on Facebook and still feel socially isolated. Other people may live in a lighthouse in Lapland and not experience a moment of loneliness. As the study clinically yet poignantly defines it, loneliness is “the painful experience that accompanies a discrepancy between a person’s desired and actual social relationships.”
Also see Does Your Brain Continue Learning Even During Sleep?, Does Your Body Posture Affect Your Confidence?, Is Burnout a Real Disorder? and Did You Forget Your Keys Because Your Brain is… “Half Asleep?”