Why "Sleeping On It" Might Actually Be A Bad Idea

You've heard it before — when someone is putting you in a position to make a big decision, they'll tell you to "sleep on it". That's because it was previously believed that rest can help in decision making processes, but new research states that sleep might not help you make decisions. While theoretically it might make sense to put a good night's sleep in between you and a big decision, scientifically, that wedge of time and rest does not yield more affirmative results.

The smart folks over at the Harvard Business School have been working on a study to prove that "sleeping on it" not only does not help the decision making process, but that it makes it more difficult. Their findings were published in the Journal of Behavior Decision Making, outlining a lab in which two groups were selected. Both groups were shown two different computer bags and told that they could enter a raffle to win only one. (Why they chose computer bags is beyond me ... I imagine that a shiny new MacBook or Hermes bag might have been more exciting, alas, the groups were presented with utility computer bags.) One group had to put a bid in for their choice immediately and the other group had to wait until the next morning to make a decision.

The groups were monitored and analyzed, and it was found that the group that had to sleep on it, had a harder time arriving at a decision. The extra time made room for doubt and confusion but it also lead to a stronger attachment to the chosen item. So if sleeping on it doesn't improve the quality of your decision, does that mean that making an impulsive choice does?

Not exactly. It's still important to consider your options and make sure that you're awake, alert and aware when making important decisions. While getting a good night's sleep might not help you decide if moving to California, or selling your car, or quitting your job or donating your kidney is the right choice for you, a good night's think won't hurt.

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