Objectives: Empathic and aesthetic perception abilities involve part of the neural network underlying the capacity to understand and share the emotional states of other people. Moreover, it has been shown that sleep quality and quantity influence empathic behavior. Here we used a mediation analysis to evaluate if empathy and aesthetic perception abilities can be mediated by objective and subjective sleep variables. Methods: Ninety-eight subjects (mean age: 22.4 3.1 years; 30 males) underwent one testing session in which they performed the Empathy Quotient questionnaire, the Basic Empathy Scale (BES) and the Golden Beauty task (GB). All subjects wore a wrist actigraph (AMI MicroMini Motionlogger) during the three days before the test; they also filled in a sleep diary, the PSQI and the Insomnia Severity Index. Results: A preliminary principal component analysis on the objective and subjective sleep variables identified four main components, explaining 78.43% of the total variance. Spearman´s correlations showed a significant relationship between the “sleep quantity” component and the emotional component of EQ (r = 0.27; P = 0.003) and the proportion component of GB (r = –0.25; P = 0.005). According to the correlation results and after the regression analysis, three mediation models were performed. The mediation analysis showed one significant model, with “sleep quantity” mediating the relation between EQ emotional component and the proportion component of GB (Sobel test: Z = 2.04 0.03, P = 0.04). Conclusions: Sleep quantity has a key role in influencing our aesthetic perception and empathy. Specifically, emotional empathic ability and aesthetic perception are related, and this relationship is mediated by sleep quantity.
- aesthetic perception
- sleep disorder