Lack of sleep makes us take risks

Pretoria News Weekend - - HEALTH -

WORLD lead­ers from Mar­garet Thatcher to Don­ald Trump have fa­mously got by on only four or five hours of sleep a night.

But sci­ence now shows some­one with their fin­ger on the nu­clear red but­ton should re­ally be get­ting a few more hours in bed.

Miss­ing out on sleep causes peo­ple to take riskier de­ci­sions, a study has found, and can change them from be­ing riska­verse to risk-tak­ing.

In a find­ing de­scribed as alarm­ing by the re­searchers, those whose sleep is cut back to five hours a night take these risks with­out re­al­is­ing they are do­ing so. Asked if they are be­hav­ing more reck­lessly than usual or tak­ing more chances, they say they are not.

The re­sults emerged from a study of 14 men in a fi­nan­cial game, in which they gam­bled for a cash sum.

How­ever, the au­thors said the re­sults also re­lated to politi­cians, bankers and busi­ness­men.

Co-au­thor Chris­tian Bau­mann, pro­fes­sor of neu­rol­ogy at Zurich Uni­ver­sity, said: “To some ex­tent, these find­ings are fright­en­ing. There are peo­ple who can call them­selves short-sleep­ers and keep their risky be­hav­iour to a min­i­mum, but most of us in­crease our risk-tak­ing when sleep-de­prived. We know Trump sleeps for four or five hours a night, which these re­sults sug­gest is of con­cern. Politi­cians who take de­ci­sions of great im­por­tance for the world, and busi­ness lead­ers who think miss­ing out on sleep makes them more pro­duc­tive, should take note.”

The study, pub­lished in the jour­nal An­nals Of Neu­rol­ogy, sug­gests the rise in danger­ous be­hav­iour is be­cause of changes in the brain. The au­thors found slow sleep waves were re­duced in the right pre­frontal cor­tex, which previous stud­ies showed were linked to higher risk-seek­ing be­hav­iour. – Daily Mail

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