The Surprising Thing That Can Make You Less Likely To Vote

If you don't hit the hay, you may not do your civic duty.

Man falling asleep while driving lies over 40

The 2020 U.S. presidential election is well over a year away, but it's already all anyone can talk about. And given the low voter turnout in the 2016 election, celebrities and activists alike are trying to galvanize eligible voters—especially young people—to do their civic duty and hit the polls next year. And if you want to make your vote count, there's one key thing you might not realize you need (besides registering, of course): sleep! A new study published in Nature Human Behavior claims that sleep deprivation makes us less likely to engage in prosocial behavior like voting, signing petitions, and donating to charity.

The new study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, and found that people who were sleep deprived were five to 14 percent less likely to vote than those who got the recommended six to eight hours per night.

Then, the researchers asked 1,117 individuals to fill out questionnaires on the importance of voting in the next election, donating to the Red Cross, and signing a recycling petition. What they found was that participants who were woken up earliest (and were therefore more tired) were 5.5 percent less likely to donate, four percent less likely to vote, and six percent less likely to sign the petition than those who had gotten more sleep.

"This suggests that missing out on sleep has broader consequences than just affecting someone's work or mood," explained John B. Holbein, the study's co-author and an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University. "It could make them prioritize themselves over doing acts that are good for society. Sleepiness has been found to reduce people's social skills and productivity, but researchers wanted to see how it affected the behaviors that 'hold the fabric of society together.'"

Anyone who has ever been tired knows that sleep deprivation tends to lead to skipping the gym and making unhealthy eating choices that cause them to gain weight. But not getting enough rest has also been proven to significantly impact your mood in a negative way. In fact, a recent study published in the academic journal Sleep found that someone who only slept four hours per night had the same verbal, reasoning, and problem-solving skills as a nine-year-old child.

Now, when you consider that as many as one in three Americans aren't getting enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that could be a problem for the 2020 election. So if you want to change the world, start by switching up your sleep regime. Need some help catching those Z's? Check out these 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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