Can’t tell who’s Friend or Foe? Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Have you ever had an experience where someone completely misunderstand your genuine meaning and intentions? These awkward situations are fairly commonplace but now thanks to research by fellows at the University of California-Berkley we may have a reason for it – it is possible that the person who misunderstood you didn’t get a very good sleep.


Why does sleep deprivation affect our ability to understand people?

The sleep study by the University of California-Berkley showed that people who had been deprived of sleep had difficulty recognising facial expressions. Facial expressions are key to us understanding another person’s intentions on first sight.

In the tests, 70 people were asked to determine if facial expressions were friendly or threatening. The tests took place twice, first after a good night’s sleep and second time after not being deprived of all sleep for 24 hours.

Whilst the tests were conducted, the participants had their brains scanned by fMRI, a scanning method that can detect brain activity in real time. During the second tests, the scans showed less activity in the areas of the brain responsible for sensing emotions when the participants were unable to distinguish between threatening and non threatening expressions.


What are the implications of not being able to understand a person’s expression?

The effects of not being able to understand another person’s expression are far reaching. We may choose not to interact with a person on the basis of a wrong impression of their mood or intentions.

People who have underlying mental health issues may be affected most by the inability to recognise facial expressions. Not only are they predisposed to poor sleep by their mental ill health, but they are also more likely to be adversely affected by a misunderstanding of another person’s meaning or intent. Feelings of paranoia, or mistrust and suspicion of others is a common mental health problem and is likely to be compounded by misinterpretation of another person’s intentions.


6 in 10 people in the UK don’t get enough sleep

According to a report in the Daily Mail the number of people not getting enough sleep has doubled in the last 5 years to an incredible 60% of UK citizens. The reason for this is largely attributed to the increased use of smartphones and tablet computers late at night. If the statistics in the Daily Mail are to be believed, it would seem that we’re all going to encounter a lot more confusing situations.


What can I do to get a better night’s sleep?

It would seem that improving our sleep could help us to avoid these kinds of situations arising. Whether you experience these situations frequently or not, it is generally agreed that getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our general health and wellbeing. With that in mind here’s 5 easy to follow tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

  1. Turn off the tech. There’s no doubting the rise in the use of handheld technology as reported in the Daily Mail article. Many sleep experts agree that the use of tech late at night is affecting our sleep. We recommend you turn off the devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  2. Take a warm bath. A warm bath before bedtime can be a really good way to make you relax and receptive to sleep. Add a few drops of lavender oil to the water to make the bath even more effective.
  3. Enjoy a good book. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind at the end of the day. It’s also a good alternative to get you away from technology – as long as you don’t use a backlit e-book device.
  4. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Most people are aware of the need to reduce caffeine intake as the day goes on. Most people aren’t aware that caffeine stays in our systems for around 8 hours after consumption. This means that if it is having an effect on your sleep you need to make your last coffee early in the afternoon.
  5. Put on clean bedding. Always a favourite when combined with our second choice, take a warm bath. It’s a great feeling climbing into a well made bed with fresh linen. What better way to relax? If you’re your bedding is of an uncertain age and could do with a replacement, head on over to the bedding section here at for a great choice of luxury bedding

So the next time someone seems alarmed by your appearance remember it’s most likely that they didn’t get a great night’s sleep – nothing to do with your appearance.