Not sleeping hurts your ability to stay positive: study

You know what’s really, really depressing? Insomnia.

The world’s sleep-deprived masses struggle to maintain a positive attitude, according to a new study in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

The inability to remain upbeat is a major symptom of depression.

“In general, we have a tendency to notice positive stimuli in our environment,” Dr. Ivan Vargas, who led the study, told Science Daily.

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“We tend to focus on positive things more than anything else, but now we’re seeing that sleep deprivation may reverse that bias.”

About 16 million American adults went through a major depressive episode in 2014 alone, according to Science Daily.

It was already known that the sleep-deprived run the risk of developing health problems like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. But this new research found that they also may struggle to be a positive, happy person.

“There’s probably some truth to the idea that insomnia causes depression,” said John, a 52-year-old accountant. “Stress levels (are) higher. Makes you irritable. It affects your memory, your immune system.”

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Model and Property Released (MR&PR)

People who suffer from insomnia are three times more likely to report thoughts of suicide.

(andresr/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Vargas and his team separated 40 healthy adult volunteers into two groups: one was asked to stay awake for 28 straight hours, while the other half slept for a full eight hours.

They were then asked to identify happy, sad or neutral faces. The study found those who were incredibly sleep deprived were far less likely to focus on the smiling faces.

“I think it affects your personal life more than your work,” said Leo, 37, a medical biller. “You’ve got to have patience with people, and that’s hard if you are tired all the time.”

People who suffer from insomnia are three times more likely to report thoughts of suicide, the report noted. Those with a history of insomnia were less sensitive to the severe lack of sleep — possibly because they have more experience dealing with the symptoms of being sleep deprived, Vargas said.

“Depression is typically characterized as the tendency to think and feel more negatively or sad, but more than that, depression is associated with feeling less positive, less able to feel happy,” Vargas said.

Former MTA employee James, 65, said a little soft music goes a long way to chasing the dark clouds away.

“I think sleep will help someone in a depressive state,” he said. “You also have to exercise and have proper diet. Sleep alone isn’t enough.” 

health studies
mental health

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