Aside from the light-headedness, grogginess, and endless yawning, scientists just recently found out that sleep deprivation can also cause optimism. It doesn’t really sound like a bad thing at face value, because everyone could really use some positivity in their lives, right? Yes, but with reservations. Excessive optimism can get risky, especially if you need to make important decisions when you’ve just missed out on some zzz’s.
We all know that making an important decision while sleep deprived is not a good idea. Without the right amount of sleep, we’re less focused, we don’t remember things right, and it’s hard to integrate feedback properly. In short, because we’re unable to focus on the matter at hand, making a decision when you didn’t get enough zzz’s is never a good idea. You’ll most likely neglect important points worth considering, making your call flawed and problematic in the end. Coupled with exaggerated optimism, you might just commit yourself to something that you won’t even touch with a ten foot pole after a good night’s sleep.
A study was conducted by neuroscientists from the Duke University medical schools tested the effects of sleep deprivation in decision making. With the help of an MRI, the experts determined that lack of sleep can increase brain activity in the areas that assess positive outcomes and a decrease in the areas for negative consequences. This helped them conclude that a person who has slept less than needed is more sensitive to positive rewards and tends to ignore the cons.
This means that when we’re sleep deprived, we’re more likely to only recognize the good things an opportunity brings. We tend to ignore the possible consequences and we’re not really able to rationalize the situation. We’re more likely to jump at something because our brain is only focused on the good part, blinded by sleep deprivation.
So, the next time you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep and you’re offered a major opportunity, give yourself some time before you make a decision. Experts even suggest to sleep on it first. As your body is able to integrate conscious deliberations with unconscious processing when you’re fast asleep, sleeping on a big decision gives your body some time to think it through, since your brain isn’t really resting when you’re dozing off. Clear your mind with some zzz’s and get your ability to weigh pros and cons back before making a call.