Sleep loss causes social withdrawal and loneliness

Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 14;9(1):3146. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05377-0.


Loneliness and social isolation markedly increase mortality risk, and are linked to numerous mental and physical comorbidities, including sleep disruption. But does sleep loss causally trigger loneliness? Here, we demonstrate that a lack of sleep leads to a neural and behavioral phenotype of social withdrawal and loneliness; one that can be perceived by other members of society, and reciprocally, makes those societal members lonelier in return. We propose a model in which sleep loss instigates a propagating, self-reinforcing cycle of social separation and withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Social Isolation / psychology*
  • Young Adult