Fruit Flies Study Shows—Social Isolation Steals Your Sleep

written by / September 8, 2021
Fruit Flies Study Shows—Social Isolation Steals Your Sleep

A new study by the Rockefeller University conducted on fruit flies might shed more light on one frequently underestimated sleeplessness-inducing factor—social isolation.

During the pandemic that we’re going through, many of us became intimately familiar with this phenomenon in humans. The study just gives it a scientific basis, while highlighting another side-effect of social isolation—overeating.

But what makes scientists so confident in comparing humans to fruit flies? Well, besides our surprisingly similar genetics—a 61% match—both species are social creatures. 

The fruit fly study, published in the renowned Nature, showed that, when one of these social insects is isolated from the rest of its swarm, it tends to eat more and sleep less. The effects were noticeable within one week of isolation.

Scientists explain the fly’s behavior as stress-related. In this case, the stress it was under came from being socially isolated.

Parallel to that, a recent human study on loneliness as a contributing factor for lower sleep quality showed the same results for older individuals—isolation resulted in frequent insomnia.

So, it’s probably not the fault of your mattress if you’re unable to easily doze off when you’re alone for a while. Not even changing it for one of the top mattresses in the 2021 market can help when this social factor is at play.

What’s more, another human study investigating the correlation between self-quarantine and weight gain revealed stress-eating when in isolation is one of the main factors in weight gain.

So, we’re not that different after all! We have the same reaction to loneliness as other social creatures, including insects—the COVID-19 crisis just made that more obvious.

Given all this, you might ask yourself how those living alone cope with lockdowns and social isolation? Well, some OTC meds, meditation, and quality CBD oil for sleep can offer both stress relief and lower appetite, but eventually, the best medicine is social interaction.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”