Are you feeling the urge to take part in some online gambling tonight? Better make sure you’ve had a good night’s rest first! That’s because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to diminished self-control and riskier decision-making – two main components of problem gambling.
Additionally, online gambling may, itself, cause sleep deprivation – which can lock players into an unhealthy cycle. Fortunately, there’s always help available if you find yourself falling into these habits.
Sleep Deprivation Causing Problem Gambling
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, sleep deprivation has been proven to be linked with poor decision making and exceeding optimistic expectations when gambling, which can be a dangerous combination for online players.
The study showed that following an all-nighter, subjects tended to focus more on maximizing winnings than mitigating losses.
Late-night gamblers are fighting more than just the unfavorable odds of gambling machines; they are fighting a sleep-deprived brain’s tendency to implicitly seek gains while discounting the impact of potential losses,” said Vinod Venkatraman, the lead author of the study.
Another section of the paper explains:
While well-rested participants sought to minimize the effect of the worst loss, sleep deprivation caused the same individuals to be less concerned about losses and to shift to a strategy that improved the magnitude of the best gain. … Sleep deprivation appears to create an optimism bias; for example, participants behave as if positive consequences are more likely (or more valuable) and as if negative consequences are less likely (or less harmful).
These effects are important to remember because a person who otherwise makes intelligent financial decisions will find their self-control limited when they’re tired. The harmful impacts of sleep deprivation extend beyond gambling as well.
Insomnia or sleep deprivation also makes a person more likely to eat high-caloric unhealthy foods, makes problem-solving more challenging, and even increases the likelihood of cheating on one’s spouse. For all of these reasons, you should limit your playing to days in which you’ve received adequate rest.
Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
As we’ve previously mentioned, sleep deprivation can play a central role in problem gambling. Not only does it impair your decision-making ability, but it also causes the brain to seek out riskier wagers. If you’re regularly getting less than five hours of sleep per night, you’re considered chronically sleep-deprived.
The following symptoms are hints that you’re sleep-deprived:
- Risky Behaviors
- Unwise Decision-making
- Color Blindness
What to Do
If you are suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation, you may need some built-in systems in place to help you avoid problem gambling. For example, you may want to limit your playing to earlier in the afternoon. That’s because the rush of playing later in the evening may result in insomnia, which will then tempt you to continue gambling longer than you would otherwise.
You should also turn off all your devices and screens at least one hour before bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep. It’s also worth noting that many countries offer assistance with problem gambling, including time-out periods, in which the websites themselves won’t let you play until the self-imposed period has expired.