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SIDEBAR Don't make weighty decisions in the dead of night, researchers say

Europe
12.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Sleep researchers are weighing in on the current marathon round-the-clock exploratory talks among Germany‘s political leaders about a new government, warning of the adverse effects of sleep deprivation on people‘s judgement.

Hans-Guenter Weess, a member of the executive board of the German Society of Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, says that staying awake 22 hours has the effect on one‘s reaction capabilities of being drunk to twice the legal driving limit.

"The decision-making capability decreases, and above all it is our ethical-moral principles that become increasingly fuzzy," Weess told dpa. In such a situation, stamina can turn out to play a more important role than good argumentation.

"The sleep pressure increases and basically one wants only one thing: to go off to bed," Weess said. "And then one perhaps agrees to this or that point that, wide awake, one would not accept at all."

On the other hand, tension and adrenaline levels are probably very high, with tension keeping weariness at bay, said Weess. A short-term boost can come from one or two cups of coffee or tea. But too much of those can result in falling into a very deep hole, he said.

A similar assessment had been made by Juergen Zulley, former head of the Sleep Medical Centre at Regensburg University, after the breakdown of the previous - and failed - marathon rounds of negotiations by several parties to form a new government late last year.

"Night is not the time for objective decisions. Those who have not slept enough solve problems more poorly. Emotions then play a greater role," Zulley said then. Researchers speak of sleep deprivation when a person has gone beyond the point when he or she normally is asleep in bed.

"We have a biological rhythm that is constantly running. Sleeping ahead of time also does not help," Zulley said. By 3 am at the latest every person hits a performance wall. "That‘s why most mistakes at the workplace happen during the night shifts."

 

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