If you’re feeling antisocial this week, it could be because you didn’t sleep well. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications found that even one night of bad sleep can make you more lonely and less likely to engage with others. On top of that, the feeling can be contagious. Researchers found that when well-rested people were around the sleep-deprived even for just one minute, they felt lonelier themselves.
It’s not just that you’re tired. Physiologically, poor sleep quality increases activity in the brain regions that make you introverted and reduces activity in those that make you social, explains Sara Alger, Ph.D., cognitive neuroscientist and sleep researcher at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, who was not involved in the study.
There’s good news: You’re only one day away from being your normal self again. All it takes is one night of slow, deep-wave sleep to restore balance in the brain. If you sleep terribly night after night, you might not bounce back as quickly. “A perpetuating cycle of loneliness—feeling like you don’t belong, not connecting with people—leads to physical and mental health problems,” Alger says, like overeating, depression, and stress.
If you typically look forward to happy hour and it suddenly feels like the last thing you want to do, a good night of sleep could be the cure.