Why do people decide not to vote? New research published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour provides evidence that lack of sleep may play a role. The study found that insufficient sleep is associated with lower voter turnout and reduced intentions to vote.
“Civic participation holds democracy together. However, measures of civic participation like voting in democratic elections have languished — or by some accounts declined — in recent years,” said study author John Holbein, an assistant professor
“This is true despite the fact that more people than ever are interested in politics and say that they want to participate. However, many people who show a genuine interest in being active participants in democracy fail to actually follow through and engage. We wanted to know why that is.”
See the full PsyPost story here or click here to view the original research paper. The paper’s abstract:
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.