Sleep Loss and the Socio-Emotional Brain

Trends Cogn Sci. 2020 Jun;24(6):435-450. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2020.02.003. Epub 2020 Apr 14.


Are you feeling emotionally fragile, moody, unpredictable, even ungenerous to those around you? Here, we review how and why these phenomena can occur as a result of insufficient sleep. Sleep loss disrupts a broad spectrum of affective processes, from basic emotional operations (e.g., recognition, responsivity, expression), through to high-order, complex socio-emotional functioning (e.g., loneliness, helping behavior, abusive behavior, and charisma). Translational insights further emerge regarding the pervasive link between sleep disturbance and psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, depression, and suicidality. More generally, such findings raise concerns regarding society's mental (ill)health and the prevalence of insufficient and disrupted sleep.

Keywords: emotional processing; sleep; sleep deprivation; social behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Brain*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Deprivation*