It's been established that sleep deprivation is bad for your health, but scientists have discovered another fun side effect: It leads to more "deviant behavior."
Researchers at the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona looked at groups of nurses and students who had pulled all-nighters and found they were more prone to unethical behavior like rudeness, theft, vandalism, and violence.
The Washington Post reports:
How does this happen? [The researchers] write that sleep deprivation results in lower brain functioning, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which contains the parts of the brain that control "executive" functions, such as inhibiting emotion and behavior. Sleep deprivation reduces the metabolism of glucose, which acts as brain food for these functions.
And few of us are getting the sleep we need. Between 1999 and 2009, the percentage of Americans who sleep less than six hours a night increased from 13% to 20%, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Other statistics from the National Sleep Disorders Research Plan suggest accidents and productivity losses due to sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy $150 billion annually. And those numbers don't even reflect the losses from employees stealing printer paper and highlighters from the office supply room — due to sleep-related ethical lapses, of course.
Why Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Unethical [Washington Post]
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