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By Steven G. Mehta

Often, I sit up late at night writing an article on my blog or for a magazine or simply browsing the internet researching because I couldn’t sleep.  Who knew that such behavior was increasing the risk of my making risky decisions?

A recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience has revealed that a single night of sleep deprivation can substantially increase risky behavior.  According to the journal,  sleep deprivation increases the risk of economically risky behavior.  The abstract states as follows:

A single night of sleep deprivation (SD) evoked a strategy shift during risky decision making such that healthy human volunteers moved from defending against losses to seeking increased gains….These results suggest that a night of total sleep deprivation affects the neural mechanisms underlying economic preferences independent of its effects on vigilant attention.

This research underscores the importance of a good night’s sleep before a major negotiation.  Moreover, although the research didn’t address prolonged sleep deprivation, it seems to make sense that consistent sleep loss of a few hours may also have the same effect.


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