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Loneliness Literally Tires You Out, According to a Recent Study

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Raise your hand if you’re tired of being alone. Ironically enough, loneliness and fatigue go hand-in-hand, according to research. 

A recent study by scientists at the University of Vienna found that social isolation can actually drain our energy and leave us feeling overly tired.

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As StudyFinds highlights, Giorgia Silani and a group of scientists set out to find the effects of social isolation and the “social homeostasis” theory, AKA the system in charge of regulating the human need for social contact. The group used two contexts: a lab setting and at home during COVID-19 lockdowns

Thirty females participated in the lab component on three separate days and spent eight hours without any social contact or without food or with both social contact and food. Throughout that period, researchers asked each participant to rate their stress, mood and fatigue, while the team recorded heart rate and cortisol levels. Researchers found similarities between social isolation and food deprivation: lowered energy and heightened fatigue. 

Related: Podcast listening may help satisfy our psychological need for social connection: study.

Next, they compared the results to data from a study done in 2020 during lockdown in Austria and Italy. They found that participants who lived alone during lockdowns were generally more sociable, but they reported lower energy on days they were alone. 

“It is well-known that long-term loneliness and fatigue are related, but we know little about the immediate mechanisms that underlie this link. The fact that we see this effect even after a short period of social isolation suggests that low energy could be a ‘social homeostatic’ adaptive response, which on the long run can become maladaptive,” Silani explains.

So, next time you feel tired of being alone, don’t feel bad, just remember that you may be feeling tired because you are alone.


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