Failing to get adequate sleep substantively changes men’s behavior, shortening attention spans and tempers while sustaining a sort of anti-social moodiness that is often alienating to others. Men who don’t sleep — new fathers in particular fall into this category — often transform into jerks or assholes. Fortunately, this is a reversible process. All men need to do to go back to being their cheerful selves is to count some sheep.
“The impact of limited quantity or poor quality sleep is increased irritability, anxiousness, and difficulty with mood stabilization,” Dr. Noah Siegel, a doctor and professor at Harvard medical school, told Fatherly.
“Some people become more irritable, snappy and less patient with others, like their spouse, co-workers, or children,” family physician Dr. Crystal Bowe agreed. “Many individuals become inattentive, and more prone to mistakes, even on tasks they can normally do with very little effort.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in three adults does not get their daily recommended seven hours of sleep. Scientists suspect sleep deprivation leads to irrational emotional responses by weakening the connection between the amygdala, the emotional control center of the brain, and prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for personality expression, decision making, and general social behavior. The amygdala is also more sensitive to negative stress in these instances as well.
Because sleep loss weakens the hippocampus, men who don’t rest enough aren’t just angry. They’re kinda dumb. Part of the reason that tired people experience frustration is that they find it difficult to learn.
Research indicates that men may be affected by sleep deprivation differently than women. Dr. Jim Horne, the director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University, recently told Daily Mail that women needed approximately 20 more minutes than men to sleep in order for their complex brains to repair. However, this was based on more conjecture than data. Other data indicates that sleep-deprived men may be more prone to high-risk behaviors and more prone to interpreting female interest as sexual in nature. Still, Bowe is not convinced that the effects sleep deprivation have on mood, concentration, and personality are that different for men and women.
“I do not believe that men and women are on a whole affected differently by sleep loss, nor have I seen any convincing research to support that,” she says.
Siegel adds that he has seen more male patients who claim they don’t need that much sleep and insist they are perfectly fine with as little as four to five hours of sleep a night. “They are very likely wrong,” he says. “I certainly don’t want that person driving the truck next to me on the road, doing my taxes, or operating on me.” If these undersleepers got more rest, they might find themselves happier and more effective. They might also find themselves with more friends.