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Holbein, John B.; Schafer, Jerome P. and Dickinson, David L. (2019): Insufficient sleep reduces voting and other prosocial behaviours. In: Nature Human Behaviour, Vol. 3, No. 5: pp. 492-500

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Insufficient sleep is a growing public health concern in industrial societies. Although a lack of sleep is known to negatively affect private behaviours-such as working or going to school-comparatively little is known about its consequences for the social behaviours that hold society and democracy together. Using three complementary methods, we show how insufficient sleep affects various measures of civic participation. With survey data from two countries, we show that insufficient sleep predicts lower voter turnout. Next, with a geographical regression discontinuity design, we demonstrate that individuals from the United States who tend to sleep less due to circadian impacts of time-zone boundaries are also less likely to vote. Finally, we experimentally manipulate short-term sleep over a two-stage study. We observe that the treatment decreases the levels of civic engagement, as shown by their willingness to vote, sign petitions and donate to charities. These results highlight the strong negative consequences that current levels of insufficient sleep have on vitally important measures of social capital.

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