Scientists reveal that young people make riskier decisions in life because they are sleeping less
Aside from making sure you look positively radiant the following day, sleep is important for a number of reasons, which have undoubtedly been drilled into you since childhood. Biology lessons taught us that a good night's sleep not only enables us to function adequately but enables us to retain information better, repairs damaged tissue and promotes cell turn-over.
Certainly, as anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter due to an impending deadline or some rampant partying will know, it's difficult to work to your full potential when your brain is so clouded that even the strongest of espresso shots doesn't make a difference.
And apparently, we now have more reason than ever to ensure that we get our eight-hours of shut-eye as a recent study determined that a chronic lack of sleep in young adults tends to result in more risk-seeking behaviour, with those who engage in such conduct not even noticing that they are doing it.
In the paper, Insufficient sleep: Enhanced risk-seeking relates to low local sleep intensity, researchers from the University of Zurich came to the conclusion that young adults who are chronically sleep deprived make significantly riskier decisions.
The study examined the how the sleep cycles of 14 male students between the ages of 18 and 28 years affected their risk behaviour.
Scientists discovered that if the students only had five hours of sleep each night for a week, their behaviour was more reckless than those students who slept for the recommended eight hours. In order to determine this, the team analysed the treatment group's financial risk-taking behaviour by making them do an experiment two times a day wherein they had to choose between receiving a specified amount of money with a pre-determined probability or opting for a smaller amount that they were guaranteed to receive.
Of course, the riskier the decision, the greater the possible reward - but the students also had to factor in that they could receive nothing at all if they went with high amount.
As we could expect, the scientists found that one night of little sleep had little to no affect on risk-taking behaviour. But, as the week went on, they concluded that 11 of the 14 students had started to display reckless behaviour. Interestingly, when the subjects were asked to judge their own risk-taking behaviour, they all relayed that they believed it was the same as when they were getting the average amount of rest.
Professor Christian Baumann, who assisted on the study, asserted "we therefore do not notice ourselves that we are acting riskier when suffering from a lack of sleep."
However, he added that there has been a decided shift in the way that sleep is viewed in high-pressure career paths: "the good news is that, in the high-powered world of managers, getting enough sleep is increasingly being seen as desirable."
Well, that's reason enough to ensure that we all get our 40 winks at night. I mean, sleep has to be one of the best parts of life, and now we have added reason to get even more of it.