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A good sleep? It makes you kind and altruistic

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A good sleep?  It makes you kind and altruistic

Sleeping and having a good restful sleep makes people kinder and more ready to help others. What does sleeping well have to do with the propensity to understand others and perhaps even help them? And yet it has something to do with it. A study signed by researchers from the Department of Neuroscience and Social Psychology of the University of Bern and the Department of Neurology of the University of Zurich, and published in Journal of Neurosciencehas shown that those who sleep more deeply are more available and altruistic, more empathetic, more involved with the world.

Are you anxious and unhappy? So you didn’t sleep well by Noemi Penna 01 March 2024 The study we are talking about falls on the eve of March 15, when World Sleep Day is celebrated throughout the world, or World sleep day, the event dedicated to spreading awareness of the importance of sleep for individuals and societies. World sleep day is promoted simultaneously in every part of the world by the World Sleep Society and this year has as its topic: Sleep Equity for Global Health.

Prosocial behaviors

Availability and altruism – as well as the propensity to help, take care, share and cooperate – are pro-social behaviors, that is, beneficial for the entire society, which through the construction and maintenance of functional and positive interpersonal relationships , it gets stronger. Several studies that have observed the effects of sleep deprivation on human behavior have already clearly suggested that sleeping little makes people anxious and ill-disposed (in fact, even putting scientific studies aside, bad mood after difficult nights is a common experience, and the bad mood generally doesn’t help relationships). But couldn’t pro-sociality not only be linked to the duration of sleep but also to differences in sleep profiles, i.e. to the progress of its different phases? They wanted to answer this question Miriam Studler, Lorena Gianotti and the colleagues who signed with them the work we are talking about.

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Sleep cleans the brain: all thanks to the scavenger neurons by the Salute editorial team 29 February 2024

The physiology and phases of sleep

Studler, Gianotti and others evaluated the sleep physiology of 54 adults using polysomnography, a test that records the progress and variations of physiological parameters during REM and non-REM phases. During the REM phase, which occurs several times during the night, the brain is very active, the pupils move under the eyelids (hence the acronym REM, Rapid eyes movement) and we dream. The non-REM phase instead has four stages: the first is falling asleep and the second is light sleep. With the third stage the deep sleep phase begins, which reaches its maximum with the fourth stage, true restorative sleep. Stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep are also called slow wave sleep (SWS), slow waves are therefore an indicator of deep sleep.

One in three adults doesn’t sleep as much as they should. A decalogue to start sleeping again (at least to try) by Tina Simoniello 29 February 2024 “We discovered – the authors said – that greater slow-wave sleep activity at the level of the right temporoparietal junction (an area of ​​the brain involved in social cognition : the ability to know the social reality around us, ed.) is associated with greater pro-sociality”, which the authors measured with a game.

Gambling, money and the common good

The 54 participants were invited to engage in a role-playing game during which – in summary – they were assigned points equivalent to real money and were asked to decide whether to keep the money for themselves or whether to instead contribute their money to a ‘ common good’. And it worked out like this: People with greater slow-wave sleep activity measured by electrodes applied to the right temporal lobe of the brain were more likely to donate their money to benefit the community.

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Are you anxious and unhappy? So you didn’t sleep well by Noemi Penna 01 March 2024 It is interesting – as the authors pointed out – that the hours of sleep slept did not influence the prosocial behavior of the players. These findings – they said – read together with the fact that the temporal region of the brain is involved in the ability to take the point of view of others, suggest that differences in pro-social behavior may be linked to differences in sleep quality, and not necessarily to the duration.

A new bond that explains things

The study on Journal of Neuroscience demonstrates the existence of a link between neural markers of deep sleep and pro-sociality, according to its authors. It also provides evidence for a possible neural mechanism that would explain the results obtained from studies on sleep deprivation and prosocial behavior. “Our results – the authors also said – tell us how important sleep quality is for building pro-sociality, and what potential benefits interventions aimed at improving sleep quality can have to promote social capital”.

Poor sleep and risk of diabetes

Also close to World Sleep Day, a was published second study on sleep. This is a Swedish job, the results are up Jama Network Openwhich shows that those who regularly sleep between 3 and 5 hours a night increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and that a healthy diet cannot completely reverse this negative effect of lack of sleep on metabolism.

“Other studies previous to ours have shown that regularly sleeping little increases the risk of diabetes-2 and that healthy eating habits such as regular consumption of fruit and vegetables can reduce it. However, it was not yet clear whether those who sleep too little can reduce the probability of get diabetes by eating healthily,” he said Diana Careful, first author of the work. Having analyzed data from the UK Biobank (the database that collects information on the clinical history and genetics of half a million residents in the United Kingdom), the authors found that 3-5 hours of sleep is associated with a higher risk of diabetes than type 2.

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Healthy eating is important, but not as important as sleep

But also that those who eat healthily, but sleep less than 6 hours, continue to have a higher risk of diabetes 2: in practice the diet is unable to counterbalance the little sleep. “Ours is the first work that tries to understand whether a healthy diet can compensate for lack of sleep in terms of diabetes risk,” he said Christian Benedict, lead author of the publication. “However, the results we obtained should not worry – she added – but should be interpreted as a reminder of the importance of sleep for health“.

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