Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

‘Sleep on it’ is sound, science-based advice, study suggests

Date:
June 8, 2011
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
In recent years, much sleep research has focused on memory, but now results of a new study suggest another key effect of sleep is facilitating and enhancing complex cognitive skills such as decision-making.

In recent years, much sleep research has focused on memory, but now results of a new study by University of Massachusetts Amherst psychologist Rebecca Spencer and colleagues suggest another key effect of sleep is facilitating and enhancing complex cognitive skills such as decision-making.

Related Articles


In one of the first studies of its kind, Spencer and postdoctoral fellow Edward Pace-Schott investigated the effects of sleep on affect-guided decision-making, that is decisions on meaningful topics where subjects care about the outcome, in a group of 54 young adults. They were taught to play a card game for rewards of play money in which wins and losses for various card decks mimic casino gambling.

Subjects who had a normal night's sleep as part of the study drew from decks that gave them the greatest winnings four times more often than those who spent the 12-hour break awake, and they better understood the underlying rules of the game. Psychologists believe rule discovery is an often hidden yet key factor that is crucial to making sound decisions.

"This provides support for what Mom and Dad have always advised," says Spencer. "There is something to be gained from taking a night to sleep on it when you're facing an important decision. We found that the fact that you slept makes your decisions better."

This role of sleep in everyday life is accepted as common wisdom, but it hasn't been well characterized by science until now, she adds. She and her colleagues believe this sleep benefit in making decisions may be due to changes in underlying emotional or cognitive processes. "Our guess is that this enhanced effect on decision-making is something that depends on rapid-eye-movement or REM sleep, which is the creative period of our sleep cycle," the psychologist notes. Results are in the current early online issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

The UMass Amherst study used the Iowa Gambling Task, a gambling card game that assesses frontal lobe function, where more emotional decisions originate. Spencer explains, "It means that you care about the wins and losses. You care about winning."

To begin, the researchers gave two groups of 18- to 23-year-old college undergraduates a brief morning or afternoon preview of the gambling task, so brief that it was not possible for them to learn its underlying rule. Subjects were then asked to come back in 12 hours. The 28 subjects who got the preview in the afternoon went home to a normal evening and their usual night of sleep while the 26 who received the game preview in the morning came back after a day of normal activities with no naps.

On the second visit, subjects played the full gambling task for long enough to learn that drawing cards from four decks of cards yielded different rewards of play money: Drawing from two advantageous decks yielded low rewards, occasional low losses and a net gain over many draws, while drawing from disadvantageous decks yielded high rewards, occasional high losses and a net loss over many draws. The object was to avoid losing and collect as much play money as possible.

Subjects who got to sleep between the game's brief introduction and the longer play session showed both superior behavioral outcome, that is, more advantageous draws, and superior rule understanding when asked to explain them at the end, than those who did not sleep between sessions.

To assure that time of day didn't explain the different performance between sleep and wake groups, the researchers added two smaller groups of 17 and 21 subjects to perform both the preview and the full task either in the morning or the evening. All subjects said they had normal sleep patterns (for college students) and the groups didn't differ on overall game skills at the start. Males and females do not differ in game-playing skills, the authors point out, but there were equal numbers in each group.

This work was supported by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health. Spencer and her UMass Amherst colleagues have begun new studies to more specifically explore the relationship between REM sleep duration and success on decision-making tasks. They are also launching studies of the relationship between sleep and decision-making in older adults.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Edward F. Pace-Schott, Genevieve Nave, Alexandra Morgan, Rebecca M. C. Spencer. Sleep-dependent modulation of affectively guided decision-making. Journal of Sleep Research, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00921.x

Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "‘Sleep on it’ is sound, science-based advice, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110607094849.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2011, June 8). ‘Sleep on it’ is sound, science-based advice, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110607094849.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "‘Sleep on it’ is sound, science-based advice, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110607094849.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) — Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins