Poor sleep for five consecutive nights can negatively affect an individual’s emotional processing, causing behavioural and neurofunctional changes, says a recent research study published in the Journal of Sleep Research (April). The study was conducted by University of L”Aquila, Italy researchers who examined the effects of five nights of sleep restriction (only five hours per night) on emotional reactivity in healthy people.
According to study lead author Daniela Tempesta, participants were asked to evaluate valence and arousal of 90 images selected from the ‘International Affective Picture System’. Participants whose sleep was restricted for several nights in a row perceived pleasant and neutral pictures negatively. The results provide evidence that inadequate sleep for five or more consecutive nights alters the evaluation of pleasant and neutral stimuli, imposing a negative emotional bias. “Considering the pervasiveness of insufficient sleep in modern society, our results have deep implications for daily life, as well as clinical settings,” says Tempesta.