Not enough sleep leads to risky decisions

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Scientists from the University of Zurich say their results can relate to politicians, bankers and business leaders, as well as ordinary people. Former U.K. leader Margaret Thatcher famously survived on four hours of sleep a night, while current American leader Donald Trump says he gets in about four or five hours of shut eye.

To reach their conclusions, the team of experts recruited 14 men aged 18 to 28 and looked at how they played a gambling game on just five hours sleep a night over the course of a week.

The men could accept an automatic payment of 20 Swiss Francs or gamble for up to 100 Swiss Francs, and the riskier the decision, the higher the possible gains were, though the participants could also leave empty-handed.

As the days went on, 11 men in the group began to behave in a riskier way, including six participants who had previously been identified as risk-averse. Interestingly though, the men didn’t think their behaviour had changed.

“To some extent, these findings are frightening,” co-author Professor Christian Baumann noted. “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 Donald Trump sleeps for four or five hours a night, which these results suggest is concerning. 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.”

Results have been published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

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