If you’re about to put everything on red (or perhaps remortgage your house to buy penny stocks), stop and think. Not just about the decision you’re making, but whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep before hand. We all know that decision making can be impaired by a lack of good shut eye, but researchers at Duke University have shown that sleep deprivation makes you overly optimistic… Which might normally be a good thing… Until your finances are on the line.
The researchers took 29 healthy adult volunteers with an average age of 22 years, and asked them to perform some financial tasks twice, once at 8 am after a night of normal sleep, and once a bit earlier, at 6 am after a night of sleep deprivation. They were asked to watch as gambling results were sorted into positive or negative outcomes while in an MRI, and to perform other tests (outside the MRI) in the morning, and hourly during the sleep deprivation (because you know, being kept awake is much better when you’re asked to make financial calculations too).
When sleep deprived, the MRI testing showed that the participants had elevated activity in parts of the brain that perceive positive outcomes, and lowered activity in the parts of the brain that processed negative outcomes – sleep deprivation made them more optimistic, even when there wasn’t a reason to be.
The study also showed that, when sleep deprived, we tend to make decisions that focus on making money, not decisions focused on reducing loss or mitigating risk – we become gamblers.
And on the subject of gambling…ever wonder why there aren’t clocks in casinos? Why the atmosphere is designed to keep you alert and awake? Why there are rarely Windows, and why these fine establishments are open all night? Well now you know. And you know to get better sleep before you bet the farm on one spin of the wheel, no matter how optimistic you are about your luck. So cut out the bright lights and glitter-tone of Vegas with your Nite Hood sleep mask and profit from good cautious play.