You have a huge decision to make, and all you want to do is curl up in your bed. This probably sounds familiar. If you’ve mastered the art of 'sleeping on it,' you might think it’s easier for you to make the right decisions. But does the age-old advice to ‘sleep on it’ when you’ve got a pending decision even work?
Logically, it makes sense. A clear and rested mind should make it easier to land on a decision you feel good about.
Despite this conventional wisdom, many experts argue that sleeping on it too much can minimize the power of instinct, which is an important aspect of good decision making. Let’s look at both sides of the debate, and you can decide if ‘sleeping on it’ is just a fable or a surefire way to make the best decision possible.
When you’re wondering how to make a difficult decision, there are generally two types of responses. The first is to act straight away with decisiveness, and the second is to take a day or two, sleep on it, and then come to a conclusion.
To sleep on it means you lean towards the latter. You wait until the next morning and revisit the decision with the hope that you will be able to solve a problem or settle on an outcome with clarity and conviction.
Sleep is one of the most powerful actions humans take. Quality sleep improves memory and mobility, reduces stress, boosts creativity, and benefits mental health. For all these reasons and more, taking a snooze before making a decision is often recommended.
It’s no secret that we can make some pretty poor decisions when tired, stressed, and emotional. Distractions can get the better of us, and instead of thinking clearly, the mind starts planning ticks on us, playing out the worst possible outcomes for even the smallest decisions.
This is where most people find it beneficial to hit pause, set the alarm, and go to bed.
One of the most popular explanations about the power of taking a break before making the final call on a big decision has to do with the mystical workings of the unconscious mind. Unconscious thought is a method of thinking where attention is directed away from the main issue.
By diverting attention away from whatever you may be deliberating over, research suggests your mind will have the ability to focus on the main aspects of the decision without allowing emotion or bias to sway the course of thinking.
In a study conducted by Lancaster University, researchers found participants who slept before making a tough decision were able to develop new and more creative solutions. What if the problem is simple and easy? There’s no need to sleep on it, according to the study.
There are two significant reasons why it’s not always good to sleep on it. Firstly, it can hinder your ability to make fast decisions based on your instincts. Secondly, we don’t always have the time to snooze.
Say you need to settle a deal with a client by the end of the day. It’s 2 pm, you’re stuck in the office, and you’re hit with a severe case of indecisiveness. What do you do?
There is a range of other strategies that can help you make a tough decision that doesn’t involve a full night of sleep. Don’t have a spare 8 hours for deep sleep? Take a power nap. A 20-30 minute power nap can rejuvenate energy and give the brain a refresh - just in time to make that critical decision.
A brisk walk can also do the trick. A lap around the office block in the sunshine is known to do wonders for information processing, mood, and energy. Exposure to sunlight releases serotonin, a hormone that is very good at improving mood and focus.
Next time you feel like you need to make a tough call and feel plagued with indecision, know other ways to clear your mind.
You might like the idea of being able to sleep on it, but when push comes to shove, you find it hard to fall asleep. It's a common challenge for many troubled sleepers who often get caught up ruminating in bed and wasting pressure hours of shut-eye.
If this is you, try these three tips to make sleeping on a decision easier:
1. Ensure you have the best mattress: if your bed is uncomfortable, getting quality sleep can be almost impossible. Invest in a memory foam mattress or a hybrid mattress, so you give yourself the best chance to feel comfy and supported as you rest your mind and body. These mattress types are recommended as they suit any sleeping posture.
2. Use a heavy blanket: most people find it hard to fall asleep fast when stressed, so they use a weighted blanket to calm the nerves. Heavy blankets use gentle pressure stimulation to induce a calming effect on muscles and joints.
3.Practice sticking to a sleep schedule: when you are not used to sleeping and waking up on time, sleeping on a decision can be tricky. To make things easier for yourself, try going to sleep and waking up at the same time each night (weekends included).
When the decision is tough, and you have no clarity, sleep on it. If your decision is easy, there’s no need to indulge in a snooze all the time. Trust your gut and follow your instincts.