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Sleep loss affects how emergency and healthcare professionals react to the patient’s feelings.

Sleep-deprived paramedics cannot understand how the patient feels. Credit: Shutterstock

Lack of sleep affects the ability of people to feel others. Sleep deprivation and mental malaise can hurt anyone, but first responders and healthcare professionals are particularly vulnerable due to the nature of shifts, long hours, and overall stress at work.

This is relevant during pandemics in many countries’ healthcare systems Have been overwhelmed Due to the increase in the number of people in the hospital.

According to our research, sleep-deprived emergency care workers cannot understand the feelings of patients.

Effects of sleep loss on mood and emotions

I am Cognitive neuroscientist Study how the brain thinks and solves problems. My research shows how quickly you react, learn information, solve problems, plan, multitask, and emotions when you’re not sleeping, just as you would when you’re resting a lot. Focuses on what you can’t adjust and understand.

It’s well known that you don’t get enough sleep Change mood and emotions— Think about how moody you will be the next day if you study all night.However, little is known about how sleep deprivation affects more complexly. Emotional process.

Moods and emotions are often thought of as the same thing. In reality, they are very different. The mood is short-lived, not linked to a particular event, and is either positive or negative. Do you remember the last time you had “uneven mood”? You felt great and terrible, but you may not have been able to determine the cause.

Emotions are learned reactions to situations and people.. They are offered in different shades and intensities. For example, seeing a bear in the woods may give you a feeling of fear. It’s hard to understand our own feelings, but what about understanding the feelings of others?

Effect of sleep loss on empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others, that is, the ability to put yourself in the position of others.

2014, Neurolab, Directed by Professor Giuseppe Iaria of Cognitive Neuroscience, Designed the study Understanding how sleepless nights affect people’s ability to understand the emotions of others.

To do this, we have developed a computer test that displays images of people in negative, positive, and neutral situations to participants. For example, I introduced people who are painful, who laugh and dance, and who just sit at a table. Then I asked the participants to explain what the people in the picture were feeling first and how strong their feelings were when they were looking at the picture next.

This test was used to measure empathy for a group of college students. First, we tested everyone to understand how sympathetic they are usually. Then we spent the night in the lab with the group, playing board games, socializing and watching movies to awaken them. After they were awake all night, we retested them and compared their results to the students who were sent home to get a good night’s sleep.

Our findings were clear. Students who lack sleep felt less empathetic to people in negative situations than students who slept soundly.

But is it just extreme Lack of sleepDoes it cause this change, as it happens all night?

We found it Chronic poor sleep quality was also associated with reduced empathy for others..One group of people to experience Chronic sleep loss due to work schedule is emergency medical care..

Emergency medical personnel have poor sleep quality

Following a shift work schedule for many years affects the sleep quality of paramedics. Empathy is an important part of their work, as paramedics also respond first to patients in stressful and traumatic situations.

Using the same computer tasks that students used earlier, we tested paramedics with more than five years of experience and trainees studying to become paramedics.It turns out that an experienced rescuer reported Poor sleep quality and low empathy Compared to trainees. They also told us about their long-standing sleep problems and how they felt insensitive to the pain of others.

Psychic numbing, lack sympathy Sleep disorders are part of the symptoms experienced by suffering people Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms increase the risk of suicide.According to Canadians Statistics from the Suicide Prevention CenterFirst responders may experience twice as much PTSD as the general population. Approximately 22% of emergency health care workers develop PTSD at some point in their lives.

During a coronavirus pandemic Frontline workers Symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression and PTSD are increasing worldwide. Recent media reports have helped bring this to the public’s attention, reporting a dramatic shortage of staff and poor working conditions. In many Canadian states Between the 3rd and 4th waves.However Policy maker It tends to be late.

According to our research, overworked health care professionals are less sympathetic to the needs of their patients than when they are well rested. This finding should guide our healthcare professionals in ensuring that they get the rest they need to get the most out of their patients.

We are currently conducting a study to investigate the relationship between sleep and emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are of particular interest in understanding these relationships in emergency medicine. Health care workers,and Recruitment of participants..


Sleep loss does not affect the ability to assess emotional information


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Sleep loss affects how emergency and healthcare professionals react to the patient’s feelings.

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