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3 Surprising Factors That Lead to Bad Decisions

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3 Surprising Factors That Lead to Bad Decisions

By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline

Today, all of us will make hundreds of decisions that range from the simple (“What do I want for dinner?”) to the complex (“What do I want out of life?”). Choices big and small dictate the paths our lives take, a fact that usually overwhelms me into chronic indecisiveness. I often look at people ruled by their instincts and wonder how they learned to trust their guts without fear. However, decision making isn’t as black and white as I assumed. I always believed I lacked the decision making gene, but there are surprising outside factors that affect the process.

To Sleep, Perchance to Decide
One thing’s for sure–poor sleep quality makes for poor decision making. In a 2007 study at Duke University published in the journal SLEEP, researchers studying sleep-deprived gamblers found that they were more likely to make impulsive, risky decisions because they focused more on potential rewards than consequences. Another study, this one in 2006 at the University of Amsterdam, concluded that when it came to high-importance purchases (such as a car), people made better decisions unconsciously instead of thorough deliberation. Their study championed an idea that many people espouse–that sleeping on issues is the best way to reach a decision.

Some studies have challenged this notion. In 2008, volunteers at the University of New South Wales made choices based on one of three methods–instant decision making, unconscious decision making (the “sleeping on it” method), and mulling it over. Researchers concluded that those who deliberated made the best choices. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people did worse on performance tests taken right after waking up, suggesting that sleep inertia negatively affects decision making. Whether sleeping on decisions is a good idea is debatable, but it’s clear that being sleepy does not a good decider make.

Related: What’s Your Sleep IQ?

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11:36PM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Thank you for info.

11:33PM PDT on Aug 14, 2013

Thank you for info.

10:38PM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Thanks for the information.

9:42AM PDT on May 28, 2011


12:02PM PDT on Mar 21, 2011

Now, I know why I'm so indecisive when I'm on my period. I have noticed this a lot lately, but it might also have something to do with my sleep pattern. Having 2 little ones, both under age 5 years, has made me sleepier, especially when the youngest one (14 months old) wakes me up in the middle of the night. So, I guess, that I can blame this on both. Thanks for the article! Very interesting.

12:30PM PST on Mar 11, 2011

old news, what a waste of money that could have been spent studying something we didn't already know.

2:03PM PST on Mar 8, 2011


9:51AM PST on Mar 7, 2011

Thank you!

9:33AM PST on Mar 5, 2011


10:53PM PST on Mar 4, 2011

Very good article. i like it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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