A new study shows that being lonely can have an effect on how well you sleep. The research concluded that people who feel lonely are more likely to wake up during the night and experience fragmented sleep.

This study, published in the journal Sleep, measured the sleep patterns of 95 adults from a farm community in South Dakota for one week. Those people reporting higher levels of loneliness were also recorded waking up more frequently during the night. As their loneliness scores increased, so did their amount of fragmented sleep.

The results indicated, however, that there was no association between loneliness and a person’s total amount of sleep or daytime sleepiness. The research only showed that a lonely person wakes up more during the night, causing sleep to be fragmented and less restful.

The study did note that feeling lonely and experiencing social isolation were two different things. A person feels lonely, not because he or she isn’t around other people, but because he or she perceives an isolation from or lack of connections in the community.

According to Lianne Kurina, PhD, researcher and assistant professor of health studies at the University of Chicago, “Loneliness has been associated with adverse effects on health. We wanted to explore one potential pathway for this.” Kurina also said that studies like this one can help the medical community better understand how social and psychological factors can affect health.

[WebMD]