Lack of sleep helps make optimistic decisions

by Maarten Swemmer Leave a reply »
Sleep deprivation makes flipping coin look like good odds

Sleep deprivation makes flipping coin for profit look like good odds

Entrepreneurship is about taking risks. Calculated risks. Top managers take big decisions every day. They have busy schedules and some only sleep a few hours a day. Research now shows that sleep-deprivation makes decision making easier. Not better though. Ever seen a CEO that always presents optimistic plans? It might be because of his lack of sleep.

According to an article in the Journal of Neuroscience described on, sleep-deprived individuals in a study “tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain, and were less likely to make choices that reduced loss”. The study is the first that shows that lack of sleep impacts the way the brain assesses economic value, increasing sensitivity to positive consequences and decreasing  sensitivity to possible negative consequences of decisions.

I can imagine that this is similar to a study I read some time ago, where it was proven that in a pub man and women (whatever your preference) look more attractive, or more accurate, are judged as being more attractive, as the evening progresses.

Although it is well known that lack of sleep impacts attention and memory, the new research makes you wonder the impact of heavy jobs in the banking sector where account managers make decisions with millions of dollars, euros, etc every day. If sleep affects the capacity to judge and especially the capacity to value gain and loss, I wouldn’t want to trust my money to a banker that makes 80 hours a week. Actually, might this research hint us that a culture of hard work and little sleep is a good foundation for a financial crisis like the one that caused the Great Recession just a few years ago?