In a study titled “Interactions between Sleep Habits and Self-Control,” psychologists at Clemson University found that sleep-deprived individuals are at increased risk for succumbing to impulsive desires, inattentiveness, and questionable decision-making.
The purpose of the study was to explore how sleep habits and self-control are linked and how sleep habits and self-control may work together to affect daily functioning – an area that has not been studied much yet.
June Pilcher, Clemson Alumni Distinguished Professor of psychology, one of four authors of the study, said, “Self-control is part of daily decision-making. 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.”
Poor sleep habits include inconsistent sleep times and inadequate sleep quantity. As such, poor sleep habits comprise sleep-related events such as low sleep efficiency (like lying awake in bed when trying to sleep), poor sleep quality, and sleep deprivation.
“Exercising self-control allows one to make better choices when presented with conflicting desires and opportunities. That has far-reaching implications to a person’s career and personal life,” Pilcher said.
Better sleep habits can contribute to a more stable level of daily energy reserves, according to research. Availability of energy can refuel a person’s ability to make more difficult choices rather than opting for the easier choice or the easier task.
“Many aspects of our daily lives can be affected by better-managed sleep and self-control capacity,” Pilcher said. “Improved health and worker 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.”