A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge has found that sleep deprivation increases the brain’s capacity to make difficult choices.
Sleep deprivation, they found, increased the activity in areas of the brain associated with decision making, while sleep deprivation increased the activities in areas associated with the regulation of arousal and motivation.
In a series of experiments, the researchers examined how sleep deprivation affected decisions about which options were most advantageous.
The researchers also asked subjects to make a series, more complex decision tasks involving different types of risk and reward.
The results revealed that sleep loss increased the ability to make such complex decisions, while increased sleep deprivation decreased the ability.
The findings support the idea that the brain is more efficient at controlling the decision-making process during sleep deprivation.
The team hopes that this work will lead to better ways of providing sleep to individuals, especially during the winter months, and help with the challenge of reducing stress during this time.
Related: How to help your brain recover from sleep loss and sleep deprivation in the UK