How sleep deprivation affects our emotional state and ability to help others.
Helping others is a powerful ability that humans possess, which has shaped our entire civilization. The love for lending a hand has led to the growth of a massive "helping economy," with people in the United States alone giving away $450 billion to charities in 2019, equivalent to 5.5% of the country's GDP. It's common, impactful, and happens all the time.
Researchers have found that a combination of factors, such as evolution, culture, social status, and empathy, influences our decision to help others. Our brain plays a crucial role in this process, with a network of brain regions called the social cognition network being particularly important. Interestingly, lack of sleep can disrupt our ability to recognize and express emotions, and consequently, impact this network's functioning.