Study: Sleep-Deprived Men More Likely to Assume That Women Want Them

College men are somewhat more reasonable when they've slept.
4393572861_9daa2b41ae_zmain.jpg
eflon/Flickr

PROBLEM: When a woman touches a man's arm during a date, or smiles at a male student during class, how likely is it that she wants to have sex with him? The best way for him to figure that out is probably to ask her. 

METHODOLOGY: Researchers at Hendrix College, in Arkansas, recruited 60 college students (31 men and 29 women). The participants rated men and women's general interest in sex, and their intent to have sex, in situations like the ones above. For example: "When a man [or woman] goes out to a bar, how likely is it that he [or she] is interested in finding someone to have sex with that night?" They were also asked how strongly they agreed with generalized statements about both genders' interest in commitment, such as: "A typical woman needs to know that a man loves her before she is willing to have sex with him." 

The researchers then had the participants go without sleep for an entire night, and tested them again the following morning.

RESULTS: Overall, the participants rated men as being more interested in sex than woman are, and as more likely to intend to have sex. Once sleep-deprived, however, the male participants' answers changed: they rated women's interest in and intent to have sex as being more or less equivalent to that of men. Sleep-deprivation did not have any effect on the female participants' perceptions.

IMPLICATIONS: Sleep deprivation appeared to affect the men's judgment about romantic situations. The authors point out that lack of sleep has already been associated with worsened decision-making, similar to what happens when you've had too much to drink. It's believed that both cause impairment to the frontal lobe -- the part of the brain responsible for inhibition and moral reasoning, among other things. 


The full study, "The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Perceptual Processes Involved in Human Mating Decisions," will be presented at the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Presented by

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon and a former writer and producer for The Atlantic's Health Channel.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Health

Just In