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Need to Make a Big Decision? Sleep on it!

January 12, 2015

Need to Make a Big Decision? Sleep on it!

It turns out that the old adage that the best way to deal with a difficult decision is to sleep on it might actually be closer to the truth than expected!

New research is finding evidence that rather than just shutting off when we go to sleep, the brain continues to process information about the day’s events and even recently studied material. While this is good news for students looking for an excuse to have a study nap in the library t is even better news for those of us trying to make difficult decisions.

The scientists behind this research conducted experiments in which subjects i a comfortable darkened room listened to a list of words and asked to sort them into two distinct categories by pressing buttons. Once the scientists had established a baseline, the subjects were left to fall asleep. Once they were in a deep sleep, the scientists continued playing the list of words and monitored the subjects’ brain activity and found that the areas of the brain associated with motor activity lit up. This indicated that even while they were asleep the subjects were sorting the words into their corresponding categories.

Scientists conclude that even while we are asleep, our brains are still making decisions relating to the day’s events and recall - unconscious decision making.

Of course this doesn’t mean that you should fall asleep after trying to make every decision, but rather that sleeping on a problem could be a simple method of allowing your brain to process information before making a big decision. However don’t expect your sleeping brain to make decisions lightning quick - the researchers also found that the subjects’ responses to decision making were slower than when they were awake. So if you want to sleep on it, take a long deep sleep!

photo credit: reynermedia via photopin cc

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