Researchers from Washington State University have shown the impact of sleep deprivation on decision making abilities in high-stakes situations.
The data show that no matter how hard a person wants to make the right choice, sleep loss does something to the brain that simply prevents it from effectively using feedback. The study provides a new tool for investigating how sleep deprivation produces decision errors in real-life situations where information emerges over time.
“People in high-stakes environments are held accountable for their actions when they are fatigued just like everyone else,” Hans Van Dongen said. “However, we now know that when someone is sleep-deprived their brain simply can’t process feedback from their actions and changing circumstances.
“Our findings tell us that putting sleep-deprived people in perilous environments is an inherently risky business and raises a number of medical, legal and financial implications,” he said.