Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your well-being. It is the foundation upon which all of one’s lifestyle is built and it can have a powerful effect on your social life.
Too often it’s easy to miss sleep. We think we can just stay up a little later to finish some work or take some well needed me time, however, the implications of doing so could be damaging your ability to function across many disciplines. In this article I’ll be focusing on the social impacts of sleep but if you are interested in learning more about sleep I recommend you follow the work of Matthew Walker as everything in this article I have learned from following him for several years.
Your sleep functions like your brain’s reset. It works to process all the experiences of the day and heal any damage throughout your body that it can. It’s how we refuel our energy, our DNA is repaired and our bodies replenish themselves for the day ahead.
When dealing with social interactions, it’s not uncommon for social anxiety to creep in particularly when dealing with new people. Well, it turns out that a good night’s sleep will make you less anxious and more approachable.
This was discovered through an experiment at the University of California where they played videos to two groups of people. One group was sleep deprived and the other was healthy. The video’s contained images of a person walking towards them across a room and the participants were asked to pause the video when the person got too close. Those who were sleep-deprived pressed the button much earlier than the healthy participants. This shows that people who are sleep deprived want to keep more distance between themselves and the person they are talking to.
Your brain’s ‘Near Space Network’ is activated when it perceives potential threats in your environment. During this same examination, researchers found that sleep-deprived people have much more activity in this ‘Near Space Network’ than those who had a good night’s rest. As a result, you can see that when you are sleep deprived, day to day interactions with people can trigger your flight or fight response. This can make it very difficult for you to socialise as your brain will constantly be looking for threats rather than enjoying the interaction.
That’s why it is so important to get a good night’s sleep if you are wanting to meet new people or improve the social relationships in your life. If you do suffer from a lack of sleep, here are some tips for things you can do to make it easier to go to bed, fall asleep and wake up at a reasonable time.
Avoid caffeine after midday. Caffeine, found in coffee and tea’s as well as dark chocolate and a myriad of unsuspecting things, blocks your body from feeling sleepy by stopping the flow of a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is what makes you feel sleepy at night so if you’re blocking it with caffeine you won’t want to go to sleep.
Try to avoid blue light after dark. Blue light is generally emitted from screens and tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. If you make sure to switch your devices to warm lighting or you use blue light blocking glasses after dark your body will build up natural reserves of adenosine which will again make it easier for you to fall asleep.
Try to wake up at the same time every day. Your sleep is timed on a circadian rhythm and if you want to have control over when you fall asleep getting up at the same time will play a big part in resetting that rhythm. When you are in a rhythm of waking up and going to bed at the same time every night it will be much easier for you to get the sleep you need to be more alert and less anxious in your social interactions. It can be hard to get into this rhythm but keep trying, don’t give up, as your body wants to find it and when it does you’ll feel happier and healthier as a result.
With a good night’s rest, you will find it easier to socialise and make new connections with people. This will make it easier for you to make new friends and be more adventurous in your day to day life.