According to new research, if your boss doesn’t give you that promotion or your mother-in-law stiffs you on your birthday, you may be able to chalk it up to their sleep deprivation. Not because they are complete and utter jerks whose insomnia has left them in a perpetual bitchy mood (even though that may very well be true), but because they may secretly blame you for all of their woes.
The findings, presented recently at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Minneapolis, showed that those of us who lack enough sleep are more likely to think about how situations could have been different and better when we’re not happy. Specifically, we blame others and even seek revenge when things don’t turn out our way–sleepy thinking that researchers refer to as “counterfactual.”
Study leader, David Mastin, associate professor of psychology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock says the blame game can affect our career, marriage even our likelihood of getting a speeding ticket:
Would you want your supervisor reviewing you for a promotion when they are sleepy? They may say, ‘Quarterly sales were down last month and whose fault was that?’ You hope the state trooper who pulls you over has had enough sleep. Now we can imagine how important it can be to understand how not having enough sleep affects us, the impact it can have on our marriages, the way we treat people in the workplace. During voir dire, should lawyers ask jurors how sleepy they are?
What’s also interesting here is that Mastin says we live in a society where adequate sleep is not valued, pointing to the fact that other cultures incorporate things like regular siestas–something that we tend to view as “childish.” Not that napping is a good alternative to eight hours of sleep each night, but it can provide a much-needed respite during the middle of our over-scheduled days.
So if you’re like most Americans and trying to get by on an average of 6.7 hours of sleep each night, chances are you’re unjustly blaming others for things that are clearly not their fault. Something to remember next time you can’t find your keys.