Sleeplessness hampers decision making power during crises

Sleeplessness hampers decision making power during crises
Highlights

Sleeplessness Hampers Decision Making Power During Crises. Lack of sleep can do more than just making us feel drowsy, for a new study claims that if a person was deprived of \"shut eye\" time, it could hamper their decision-making power in time of crisis.

Washington: Lack of sleep can do more than just making us feel drowsy, for a new study claims that if a person was deprived of "shut eye" time, it could hamper their decision-making power in time of crisis.

For the first time, Washington State University researchers created a laboratory experiment that simulates how sleep loss affects critical aspects of decision making in high-stakes, real-world situations. Their results provide a new understanding of how going without sleep for long periods can lead doctors, first responders, military personnel and others in a crisis situation to make catastrophic decisions.

Investigations into the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown in Ukraine, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger all concluded that sleep-deprived operators played a role in causing the accidents.

Associate dean and Professor Paul Whitney, who along with colleagues recruited 26 healthy adults to take part in their study conducted at the Spokane sleep center, said that there had been a disconnect between decision making in the lab where the effects of sleep loss appeared to be minimal and decision making in the real world where sleep loss can lead to big problems. Their goal was to bridge the gap and capture the essential elements of real-world decision making in a laboratory experiment.

The data show that no matter how hard a person wants to make the right choice, sleep loss does something to the brain that simply prevents it from effectively using feedback.

The study provides a new tool for investigating how sleep deprivation produces decision errors in real-life situations where information emerges over time.

The study is published in the journal Sleep.

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