Let me sleep on it

What do you usually do when you have to make an important decision? Do you make your decisions quickly as a ninja or do you take some time to think about it? Let me tell you what I do when I have to make an important decision: I sleep on it.  Yes, you heard right, I sleep on it!

Today I’d like to talk about an English expression: “sleep on it” I just told you that when I have to make important decision, I sleep on it. So what I mean is that I don’t rush to make the decision. Actually, I delay making a decision until the following day. I really think that it’s best to wait at least a day or two. I like to consider all the different factors and options before making a final decision.  I don’t feel confident enough when I have to make a decision on the spot. Does that mean that I am stupid or incapable of making my own decision?  Not really. There is scientific evidence that shows how a good night of sleep often helps when you have to make up your mind.

For centuries it has been commonly accepted that a good night’s sleep often helps when people have to make an important decision. But now scientists have backed up this notion. Research done recently by Dr. Rebeca Spencer from the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that a key effect of a good sleep is facilitating and enhancing complex cognitive skills such as decision-making.

Dr. Spencers’s research group investigated the effects of sleep on decision-making processes when the subjects are aware of the outcome.

Let me briefly explain to you how the experiment was set up.  The researchers used a card game for their experiment. They taught 54 young people between ages of 18 to 23 to play a card game for rewards. The game mimicked casino gambling.

Participants were divided into two groups and were given a quick tutorial on how to play the game.  However, the tutorial was very short so participants didn’t have enough time to learn how exactly the card game worked.

One group attended the tutorial in the morning and the other group attended the tutorial in the evening.

The 26 students who took the tutorial in the morning came back after a day of normal activities without sleep.  The other 28 students who took the tutorial in the afternoon went home to a normal evening and their usual night of sleep.

Can you guess what happened?

Students returned for a second visit. In the morning or in the evening. Students who took the tutorial in the morning returned for a second visit the same day in the evening.  Students who took the tutorial in the evening returned for a second visit next day in the morning.

On their second visit students played the game for a longer period of time. The objective of the second visit was that the students learned how to play the game by themselves and realized that taking cards from the four different packs gave them different results. Two of the packs had cards that helped them win while the other two packs made them lose. You may be wondering what the reward was? The reward was play money.

Students who had a normal night’s sleep returned next day and drew from the winning decks four times more than those who had spent the 12-hour break awake. On top of that, students who had slept better understood the underlying rules of the game.

The results of this experiment showed that although rule discovery is a hidden key factor, yet it is crucial to making sound decisions.  These results are in accordance with common wisdom that believes that sleeping makes your decisions better.  Researchers think that this has something to do with the rapid-eye-movement REM sleep, which is the creative period of our sleep cycle. However, more studies need to be performed to find out what the connection is.


If you can’t sleep well, click here to read about a new invention to treat insomnia.

When insomnia doesn’t let you sleep on it…

Well, that’s it for today it’s 9 p.m. here in Toronto and I need to go to bed.   Let me know in a comment are you a ninja decision maker or do you like to sleep on it?

See you next time.

References:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110607094849.htm

https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00921.x

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2005818/A-good-nights-rest-really-does-help-make-important-decisions.html

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