The social side of sleep: Elucidating the links between sleep and social processes

Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2017 Oct;26(5):470-475. doi: 10.1177/0963721417712269. Epub 2017 Sep 27.


Sleep problems have become a public health epidemic with recent data suggesting that over 69% of US adults get less sleep than they need. Despite the important role that sleep plays in our lives, sleep as a variable of interest in interpersonal processes has been historically absent from the psychological literature. Recently, however, researchers have shed some light on the link between sleep and a wide array of social processes. This work illuminates the important role that sleep plays in our social experiences, from basic social perception to complex social interactions. We outline a working model for the bidirectional link between sleep and social processes, including underlying mechanisms, review the recent research that informs this model, and use it to elucidate important next steps to bring together sleep and social psychological research. We also address the pragmatics of measuring sleep for non-sleep researchers.

Keywords: close relationships; sleep; social cognition; social processes; social stress.