People who achieve restful sleep tend to experience lower levels of loneliness, particularly notable among young adults, according to recent findings from a small-scale study presented earlier this month.

The research, based on surveys of nearly 2,300 adults, revealed that individuals with better sleep patterns reported reduced social and emotional loneliness. This study comes in the wake of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s 2023 declaration of loneliness, social isolation, and lack of connection as a public health crisis.

Lead author Joseph Dzierzewski, a clinical psychologist and vice president of research at the nonprofit National Sleep Foundation, emphasized the significance of these results in addressing loneliness across different stages of adulthood. He stated, “Efforts to enhance sleep health could potentially alleviate loneliness, especially among younger demographics.”

The study highlighted that the benefits of improved sleep were particularly noticeable among younger adults experiencing emotional loneliness, although age alone did not explain this disparity. The research was presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ annual meeting in Houston in early June.

The average age of the 2,297 study participants was 44, with slightly more than half being male. Participants completed an online sleep health questionnaire and the DeJong Gierveld Loneliness Scale, which gauges both social and emotional dimensions of loneliness. Social loneliness pertains to a lack of broader social connections, whereas emotional loneliness relates to the absence of intimate partnerships.

Dzierzwerski noted in a statement that further investigation is needed to clarify why sleep appears to benefit younger individuals more significantly. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Boston, underscoring its multidisciplinary approach.

Beyond the United States, loneliness has emerged as a global public health concern, prompting countries like Japan and the United Kingdom to appoint health officials dedicated to addressing loneliness. Last fall, New York State appointed Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the renowned sex therapist, as its loneliness ambassador, marking a pioneering effort in the U.S.