Sleep deprivation is an essential part of human lives and their functioning. It is where one lacks sufficient sleep. Though we know the importance of gaining sufficient rest, there are instances where we may be deprived of sleep.
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In their study, ‘the effects of sleep deprivation on emotional empathy,’ Veronica Guadagni, Ford Burles, Michele Ferrara and Giuseppe Iaria wanted to test the hypothesis that the negative effects of sleep deprivation extends to the capacity of experiencing emotions while examining other individuals; emotional empathy. To evaluate their results, the researchers utilized two parallel versions of a computerized test measuring direct and indirect emotional empathy.
Previous studies have shown that sleep loss has a detrimental effect on the ability of the individuals to process emotional information. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that this negative effect extends to the ability of experiencing emotions while observing other individuals, i.e.
emotional empathy. Previous studies have shown that sleep loss has a detrimental effect on the ability of the individuals to process emotional information. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that this negative effect extends to the ability of experiencing emotions while observing other individuals, i.e. emotional empathy.
To execute this study, the researchers hired thirty seven individuals who had no health issues. These individuals included fifteen males and twenty two females. During the time the participants were being tested, none of them were taking psychoactive medication, nor did they have a historical background of medical, neurological, or psychiatric disorder. They were separated randomly in three groups. These included the sleep deprivation group, the sleep group and the day group. Each group was tested twice. The sleep deprivation group were tested at 9 am, before a night of complete sleep deprivation and then 8am the next morning. Two experimenters monitored this process. As the participants were being monitored, they were free to engage in various activities such as playing board games, taking walks, watching movies and browsing the internet. In addition, the sleep group participants were examined at 6 pm and 10 am on mornings after a normal night of sleep. These participants kept a sleep log to ensure sufficiency of sleep. The day group took part in the pre and post sessions of the study within the same day at 10 am and 6 pm. They basically play control for the passage of time and fatigue.
The results from the researchers study showed that the post measurement of the direct and indirect emotional empathy of the individuals in the sleep deprivation group were significantly lower than those who belong to the sleep group and the day group. The post measurement scores that were obtained from the individuals in the day and sleep groups did not vary significantly for direct nor indirect emotional empathy. In addition, the results gained are consistent with prior studies that revealed the negative effect of sleep deprivation on the processing of emotional data, and spread these impacts to emotional empathy. It’s important to note that the findings in the researchers study are applicable to healthy persons who have poor sleeping habits, including clinical populations who suffer from sleep disorders (Guadagni, Burles, Ferrara & Iaria, 2014).
In the study, the participants were prohibited from doing certain things. For instance, the sleep deprivation group was not allowed to engage in vigorous activities. I know they probably would have done this to keep them awake, but it’s a part of reality and therefore should not have been prohibited. The researchers would have gain more results if such prohibition was not made. It would have been a benefit to find out how this would have affected the emotional empathy of the participants in the sleep deprivation group. Individuals take and engage in so many things in order to keep awake so that they can get certain tasks complete. It felt as if they took out certain things so that the research can go their way. I could be wrong, but it’s just a thought. Also, the researchers did not mention how long this study lasts. It did not allow one to question if sufficient time was given to obtain the results required. As a result, one can’t conclude that sufficient time was given to obtain such data and make such conclusions.
Sleep deprivation on emotional empathy is really not a new concept to me at all. It is something that I have been exposed to several times. I remember a friend of mind experiencing this. It actually affected her for several days. She was preparing for a very important presentation and she spent hours trying to prepare and perfect the project for the presentation. Sadly, the results were not good. The presentation was poorly executed and the lack of sleep took an emotional toll on her. She was unable to comprehend her own work. She just couldn’t think clearly. Though she knew she needed to sleep and take a lot of rest, the damage was already done; she failed the presentation. Nonetheless, after gaining ample rest, she was back to herself. The clearly shows the strong impact sleep deprivation can have on your body. There is nothing great about this. Getting your 8 to 9 hours sleep is vital.
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