Poor Sleep Habits Can Have a Negative Impact on Your Self-Control
Thanks to a combination of work, family and social commitments, many of us find ourselves unable to get a good night’s sleep all too often. We all know that too few hours can leave us lacking in energy and can sometimes make us irritable or unable to concentrate, amongst a number of other possible effects. Now a new study suggests that poor sleep habits can even have a negative effect on our self-control.
Researchers at Clemson University explored how sleep deprivation affects decision-making. They found that poor sleep habits, which include inconsistent sleep times and not enough hours of sleep, decrease self-control and increase hostility.
They concluded that a sleep-deprived individual is at increased risk of inattentiveness, questionable decision-making and succumbing to impulsive desires. This impact on self-control can have a major impact on the person’s personal life and career, especially in cases of chronic sleep problems. In some cases, they explain, it can even fuel addiction.
“Self-control is part of daily decision-making,” says study co-author Professor June Pilcher. “When presented with conflicting desires and opportunities, self-control allows one to maintain control. Our study explored how sleep habits and self-control are interwoven and how sleep habits and self-control may work together to affect a person’s daily functioning.”
The authors stress that better sleep habits can contribute to a more stable level of daily energy reserves, refuelling a person’s ability to make more difficult choices and less reckless ones.
Past studies have provided evidence that sleep deprivation can also cause health problems such as weight gain, hypertension and certain illnesses. There’s no shortage of research telling us how important it is to try to maintain good sleep habits, for the sake of both our physical and mental health. You should be aiming for as regular a sleep pattern as possible, which should involve getting around eight hours of sleep each night.
“Many aspects of our daily lives can be affected by better-managed sleep and self-control capacity,” says Dr Pilcher. “Improved health and work performance are two potential benefits, but societal issues such as addictions, excessive gambling and over-spending could also be more controllable when sleep deficiencies aren’t interfering with one’s decision making.”