For men who come up short on sleep, the REM-deprived brain significantly misgauges a woman’s interest in sex, a new US study says.
For men who come up short on sleep, the REM-deprived brain significantly misgauges a woman's interest in sex, a new US study says.

For men who come up short on sleep, the REM-deprived brain significantly misgauges a woman's interest in sex, a new US study says.

Researchers recruited 60 students -- 31 men and 29 women -- and asked them to complete a survey about their interests in sex and commitment both before and after a night of sleep deprivation. (Sample question: "When a woman goes out to a bar, how likely is it that she is interested in finding someone to have sex with that night?")

Findings showed that after a good night's rest, both men and women rated the sexual intent of women as significantly lower than that of men. However, following one night of rough sleep, men's rating of women's sexual intent and interest increased significantly, to the extent that women were no longer seen as having lower sexual intent than men. The women, meanwhile, didn't alter their answers, even after losing the night's sleep.

A bad night's sleep didn't have any effect on how either men or women judged interest in commitment.

"Our findings here are similar to those from studies using alcohol, which similarly inhibits the frontal lobe," said study lead Dr. Jennifer Peszka, associate professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

"Sleep deprivation could have unexpected effects on perceptual experiences related to mating and dating that could lead people to engage in sexual decisions that they might otherwise not when they are well-rested."

The research abstract was published last week in the journal Sleep, and Peszka presented her findings June 4 in Baltimore at the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.