Make Better Decisions by Getting Your Sleep

Have you ever overwhelmed by all the complexities and ramifications that might arise from making a big decision -- buying a new car or asking for a raise at work? No doubt you have at one time or another, but over-thinking the pros and cons of those big decisions does you no good either and may lead to bad choices. Dutch researchers believe the pathway to improved decision-making begins with a good night's sleep.

To demonstrate how decision-making becomes impaired, scientists gave 80 patients information about a number of items, ranging from shampoo to cars. After reviewing the information, scientists gave half of the patients a series of puzzles to complete, requiring their attention and concentration in order to distract their thought process. The rest reviewed the information about the various products, then asked which ones they would choose.

Choosing common household items like the best shampoo or kitchen gloves was easier and satisfying for the conscious mind to deliberate. However, the group of patients who completed puzzles before making their big-ticket decisions made choices they were more comfortable with than those asked immediately after reviewing the information.

Humans aren't very good at making hard decisions consciously, researchers say, which is why we should let our unconscious handle the complicated things so we don't allow a small subset of factors outweigh all relevant information.

Sleep is one of the foundations of optimal health, and it's something you can't get from a bottle. If getting enough rest is a problem for you, please review my 29 secrets to getting a good night's sleep.

Science, Vol. 311, No. 5763, February 17, 2006: 1005-1007

MSNBC February 16, 2006

New Scientist.com February 16, 2006

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