This certainly isn’t the first time it’s been mentioned on SleepBetter.org, but it bears repeating — sleep deprivation leads to poor and potentially dangerous decisions. The sentiment is backed up by new research from Washington State University. The study was outlined in an article in yesterday’s Spokesman-Review from Spokane, Washington. Researchers from WSU note that sleep deprivation has been associated with many catastrophes, including the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker and the fatal launch of the space shuttle Challenger.
Yet linking sleep deprivation with bad decisions may be more complicated than initially thought. It may not be that people can’t make solid, snap decisions if they aren’t getting enough sleep, but rather that those decisions are based on faulty or incomplete information collected and logged by a sleepy brain.
Compare your brain to a computer tax program. If the wrong numbers are typed in – even though every box is completed and every loophole exploited with precision – the program will use those numbers to come up with a finding, even if it’s wrong.
Another example given by researchers is that a sleepy person may be in an office meeting and shown a presentation with five bullet points. The person in question may remember only the first two or three points, thus not have all of the information needed to make a decision later based on that meeting.