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Why Don't You Sleep On It?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the works-every-time dept.

Science 318

thefirelane wrote to mention a New Scientist study that indicates your subconscious mind is a better decision maker than you are. From the article: "The research suggests the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove. Sleeping on a big decision, such as buying a car or house, is more likely to produce a result people remain happy with than consciously weighing up the pros and cons of the problem, the researchers say. Thinking hard about a complex decision that rests on multiple factors appears to bamboozle the conscious mind so that people only consider a subset of information, which they weight inappropriately, resulting in an unsatisfactory choice. In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with."

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Hmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742723)

I was going to say "first post" but decided to sleep on it. Not first post!

Hmmmm (1, Funny)

jxs2151 (554138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742728)

Never thought about that...

Shower Smarts, Too! (2, Interesting)

ThankfulJosh (867278) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742785)

Somehow this strikes me as seeming really true, even if just from my own experience.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that when I take a shower (and go into a more relaxed state), I am hit with great ideas and solutions for problems. This is a very strong, repeated experience for me. I sometimes think I should bathroom tile my work cube, but this "subconscious thinking" thing makes way more sense.

P.S. C'mon, no jokes about what one may do in the shower to be relaxed. I preemptively strike at you!

Re:Shower Smarts, Too! (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742965)

So buy some of those bath crayons like my toddler has and write down all your good ideas on the wall.

I'd wager than 80% of them will look silly the next time you take a shower. Fortunately, it washes off easily.

Re:Hmmmm (4, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742878)

I've seen this happen on more than one occasion. Mostly I notice it with video games. I'll try for 2 hours to complete a task and not even complete it. Then, the next day I'll get it first try. My opinion is that your brain works through a lot of stuff when you're sleeping. I think this is why babies need a lot of sleep. Everything is new to them, and their brain needs a lot of time to process all that new information. I also find it easier to learn something new if I do it over a longer period, than trying to cram everything in at once. Instead of working 3 hours, you work on something in 1 hour sessions for 3 days. You retain the information a lot better.

Hrm (3, Funny)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742729)

I was going to post a rebuttal to this article, but I think I'll have a nap first.

sounds about right (1)

teh Wang (777509) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742737)

Its a rule I live by, but then I am a dba...

A-ha! (5, Funny)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742738)

So the famous step:

2. ???

Should actually be

2. Sleep

Re:A-ha! (1)

aurb (674003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742801)

Depends on who you sleep with. Oh, wait.

Re:A-ha! (1)

altoz (653655) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742847)

According to the article, it's more like:

2. Distract yourself

There's our justification for playing Civ IV at work!

Re:A-ha! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743033)

You misspelled "reading Slashdot".

Re:A-ha! (3, Funny)

The_REAL_DZA (731082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742952)

I'd say that instead of

2. ???

it should be

2. ZZZ

Re:A-ha! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14743075)

1. !!!
2. ZZZ
3. ???
4. $$$

Re:A-ha! (4, Funny)

Shag (3737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743059)

(Oh, and yes, I'm looking forward to the inevitable increase in MAKE MONEY WHILE YOU SLEEP ads, now.)

Re:A-ha! (1)

Doggan (945328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743082)

1. Collect underpants
2. Sleep
3. Profit

Sorry, but your conclusion makes no sense in the land of underpants gnomes.

Hmm (0, Offtopic)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742741)

Hmmm... do I wan the first post on slashdot? Maybe I'll sleep on it..

Because!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742745)

I'm rash, brash, arrogant and hot headed! I make snap decisions and YOU have to live with them. Don't like it? Tough shit! My methodology has worked great for me for years and I have no intention of changing it for the likes of you. I don't care how miserable it makes your life, I have a 1:00PM tee time!

With sincere disdain,

Your boss.

Brighter in the morning? (4, Interesting)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742746)

Is this really due to the brain "working on" problems in your sleep? Or is this because the hours after waking are when the brain is at its operational best and it is easier to process large amounts of information at that time?

Re:Brighter in the morning? (5, Informative)

CatsupBoy (825578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742833)

Funny thing is, I dont believe sleep was even introduced into the study. They had people work on puzzles while mulling over a decision.

So, while your point may be valid, sleeping would actually introduce more variables into the study then did the actuall method used in the study.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (1)

Dausha (546002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742838)

"Is this really due to the brain 'working on' problems in your sleep?"

I've suffered from this problem. I would have a hard time coding a solution at work, something that really plumbed the depths of my understanding--which probably isn't too difficult a feat. Then, I'd go home and sleep. During the night, I would dream myself coding the solution--read the code, then wake up. I would then pseudocode the solution and go back to sleep. Next day, *poof* coding was a breeze.

So, at least sometimes my mind is providing answers while I sleep. Other times, it's just screwing around. Damn loafer. Get back to work!

Re:Brighter in the morning? (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742843)

I suspect it's got a lot more to do with your brain's tendency to "unload" at night, especially as you are going to sleep. Ever been laying in bed and had some really brilliant idea?

I've read that your brain unwinds and spends all night processing the previous day's experiences in relation to the rest of your memories. When you wake up in the morning, your brain is at its best, AND your mind has had time to sort out what it's learned recently and make better sense of it.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743088)

When you wake up in the morning, your brain is at its best

I've usually found the opposite...

Re:Brighter in the morning? (4, Insightful)

Da_Biz (267075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742845)

Is this really due to the brain "working on" problems in your sleep? Or is this because the hours after waking are when the brain is at its operational best and it is easier to process large amounts of information at that time?

I don't know if it's necessarily working on problems, per-se. However, during REM sleep, your brain is at a very high level of metabolic and electrical activity, and is doing things like reinforcing long term memory. It's possible that this integration process makes for better decision making.

That said, without seeing the actual research paper, I'd have to say that the results of the study are rather specious. I'm not buying a research metric based on how people judge which "shampoo" is better.

And, when it comes to the subconcscious, I think I'd have to vote that it would NOT be the best idea to control one's consumer experience solely in that manner. The effects of TV marketing in the USA, and 'mass-consumerism' do not contribute to better buying decisions. I believe that subconscious buying = impulse buying.

The buying habits of Americans would benefit from change that comes from mindful consideration about what we really need, where things are made, and how we're going to afford things in the long term.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (1)

swimmar132 (302744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742849)

RTFA. It has nothing to do with sleep.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742860)

Well the conclusion of most scientific studies on the matter is mixed. There is no proof that the brain "works on" anything during the sleep cycle. One highly regarded study [local6.com] concluded that dreams and the like are just a primal response intended to keep our brains alert in case of nearby predators, dangers, etc.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742867)

I think it might have something to do with the rest period giving you a chance to get away from the stress of the situation in which a decision is required, and allow you to consider the decision on your own schedule.

It's difficult to make rational decisions about major things when you're under a time strain, or when you're in an evironment where there is pressure to make a decision. Car dealerships depend on this phenomenon.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (2, Interesting)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742873)

No,
In these tests, the researchers gave a complex choice, made the people do math or anagram problems, then decide. The sleeping part was just an inference, but the research concluded allowing the non-active parts of your brain to work on something was beneficial (this is what I heard on NPR, as a supplement to the article)

Re:Brighter in the morning? Unsuppressed thoughts (1)

rpcxdr (796317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742977)

Our ability to focus our attention comes from our ability to suppress competing thoughts. While we are dreaming or in the morning, we are blocking out less thoughts and worries. One theory is that our conscious mind arises from conflicting patterns in our subconscious - so it makes a lot of sense that the majority of solutions to a problem are suppressed in conscious thoughts.

Re:Brighter in the morning? (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743133)

Or is this because the hours after waking are when the brain is at its operational best...

Geez, I want your job. My hour after waking is basically, "Oh, shit, I have to go get myself in order and go to my fucking job. :(

Unless it's the weekend, when I just don't bother waking up.

Boss... (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742756)

Honest Boss, I wasn't sleeping on the job... actually I was, but it was helping me figure out how to tackle this project. Can't argue with science!

Re:Boss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742826)

..then get back to work and stop posting on Slashdot.

Be patient. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742760)

Wait for my +5 insightful post tomorrow.

Re:Be patient. (1)

WBurton (783516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743086)

You can post it with the dupe. :)

Sleep? (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742770)

Sleep... sleep... sounds familiar, but can't remember he last time I had any. I remember it was good though...

Seriously, I think it's a great discovery but for those of us who do not get the requisite amount of REM every night, I wonder if that would have an effect on these results?

I refuse to believe those hippocrates! (1)

martinultima (832468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742771)

Obviously they came to that decision while wide awake – therefore, I refuse to believe any of this nonsense until they've let their unconscious mind think it over and make the "correct" decision!

Re:I refuse to believe those hippocrates! (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742814)

hippocrates?

I thought he was dead.

Or is he just taking a really long nap?

No big surprise... (4, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742777)

The conscious mind tends to miss details. We spend so much time on the big issues that we don't notice little things. The problem is that we control our thoughts a little too well...if we don't see immediate relevance in something, we drop it. Our subconscious can take everything into account.

I'm quite fond of telling people that they think too much, or are overthinking a problem. They spend so much time fretting about how difficult the problem is that they don't actually devote any time to solving it.

emotions vs logic (1)

slackaddict (950042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742779)

Isn't this the same thing as saying, "don't make emotional descisions"? I mean, usually your first impression is an emotional one, not necessarily logical. When you wait a while and allow yourself to consider the logical or non-emotional merits of each side of a descision, you can be emotionally more satisfied with your choice. :-)

Re:emotions vs logic (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742892)

Actually, from my reading of it, they are saying do make emotional decisions. That people tend to not consider all the variables (and not compare correctly the ones they do consider) when trying to think logically, so you should let your subconcious come to an emotional decision.

Of course, it should be a subconcious emotional decision: Your first impression is a concious emotional decision, which uses the same weights and variables as your logical decision.

Re:emotions vs logic (2, Insightful)

Derlum (216320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742896)

I would be tempted to argue the opposite, actually. The primary criteria this study considered for a "successful" decision seemed to be all emotional:

...people made better decisions - ones that they remained happy with...

Isn't it possible that your unconscious mind is so much more in-tune with your primitive and emotional id that it's better able to determine what decision will make you "happy" over the long term? People make job or purchasing decisions every day that may not be the best for their career advancement or financial well-being, but none of that matters much if they're satisfied.

Not the same thing (1)

Spirckle (872312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742902)

What they are saying is that regardless of its preferred mode, either rational or emotional, your subconscious mind can weigh more factors into the descision than you conscious mind can.

So even if you are a normally rational descision maker, it's better to sleep on a big descision than not to.

Re:emotions vs logic (2, Interesting)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743016)

The way I read it, they're saying two things: first, that we background-process a lot more we're aware of, and second, that the decisions we come to after an extended background-processing session are the ones that we're the most comfortable with. Whether they're correct or not, and the actual modalities of the chain of thoughts that brought us to that decision are extraneous factors.

Siesta time (1)

SpeedBump0619 (324581) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742784)

I am gonna install a cot in my cubical now! "But I *was* working on the new database architecture."

"Natural" "Quantum Computing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742788)

Reminds me of the parallel in quantum computing where it's more energy efficient to have a quantum computer factor a large near-prime than to have vast arrays of normal computers bruteforce their way through...

Re:"Natural" "Quantum Computing" (1)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743064)

It would help if we could actually make a quantum computer (which we cannot, yet) and your post would be on-topic if the brain functioned at any level as a quantum computer (which it does not).

I wonder... (0, Redundant)

greenplasticyarn (878011) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742791)

Should I post or not? Better sleep on it.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14743098)

Should I post or not? Better sleep on it.

You'll never get a FP like that!

Eureaka (1)

SchrodingersRoot (943800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742794)

How does that work with sleep being for the weak and the dead?

Wait a second, here--
.
.
.
Most Geeks rarely sleep.
That explains so very much about slashdot...

decisions, decisions... (1)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742797)

Here is a very well written article that offers more in-depth theories on how people make conscious decisions: Decision Making and Problem Solving [dieoff.org]

The best theory offered to relate to this article IMO is the prespective theory. It hints on the idea that when faced with a problem consciously, humans try to use various decision making heuristics that are more geared towards simple such as a "right/wrong" problem. However, the world is complex with different value systems, different perspectives, and a lot of other variables that must be taken into consideration. Our "simple" decision-making algorithms tend to break down when faced with higher level choices. Maybe on some unconscious level, we actually use methods more befitting to complexity.

-1: new sc-1ent-1st (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742816)

k5 joke omg

I know that instinctively ... (1)

Pegasus (13291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742818)

That's why I like to sleep to 2pm and then work till midnight. I really feel much more productive that way.

Brain reordering. (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742832)

When I was a math grad working on my thesis, I often worked hard into the night on some tricky problem. Next morning when I woke up I would just lie in bed mulling it over.

Remarkably often the solution to the problem, or at least a fresh approach for tackling it, would occur to me after only a few minutes.

This after hours of getting no where the night before. Not that the work was wasted - it was probably a necessary precursor.

Sleep definitely reorders your brain.

Re:Brain reordering. (1)

poohneat (934308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742874)

I agree sleep is essential, i think its the whole calming effect that helps..
i have sometimes stopped doing whatever i was doing for a minute and just meditated... Just relaxing the mind, so on is definitely helpful

ps: what a large number of wisecracks on this one :)

Keep telling yourself that.. (3, Funny)

Dread_ed (260158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742850)

"In contrast, the unconscious mind appears able to ponder over all the information and produce a decision that most people remain satisfied with."

Ya, riiiight.

Acutally all you are doing is giving the subliminal programming messages more time to take effect on your mind. Once the unconscious takeover is complete the "sheep" no longer complain.

Article in spanish (1)

Beuno (740018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742862)

Here [kbglob.com] is a shorter version of the article in Spanish.
Aca [kbglob.com] tienen una version mas resumida en español.

This fits in nicely with another finding (4, Interesting)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742863)


This fits in nicely with another finding that seems amazing when you first hear about it, but is obviously true:

People spend more conscious thinking time on a choice when it doesn't really matter.

Hard to believe, right? You'd think we would think long and hard about things that matter (in the sense that one or the other of the choices will be far better or worse than the other) and not waste time on choices where the outcome is pretty much the same regardless of what we decided. But that's not, in fact, how we operate.

If you give people a choice between, say, being paid a dollar or getting hit with a stick, they make up their minds much quicker than if (to choose an example at the other end of the spectrum) you let them pick a candy out of a box of identical chocolates. You can even induce the effect; people will eat potato chips out of a bag one after another without even looking at them, but if you spread the same chips out on the table and ask "which chip do you want to eat next?" so that it becomes something they have to decide they will generally slow to a crawl.

--MarkusQ

The summary is a bit misleading (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742865)

The real conclusion is that if you give someone all the information they need to make a complex decision, then you tell them they're going to have to make a decision after you make them run through a set of distractions... They'll make the right decision.

If they don't know they're going to have to make a choice after their distraction, their subconscious won't do anything special.

This is just the same old story where if you have a problem, go think about something else & your subconscious will work it out for you. It's nice to see scientific proof for something that I've always considered anecdotal.

My last thought: Some people are better at making snap decisions and some people only think they are good at it. It takes a real man to be able to admit he needs to mull things over... which is why high-pressure sales tactics often work.

There is some truth to this (2)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742870)

I can believe this. I typically will walk away from a big decision or problem, sleep on it overnight, and by morning I usually have the answer. I never put any scientific merit into it, I just assumed it was because I wasn't being bugged by a dozen people or being pressured into a decision on the spot. But it is a practice that I use very often, especially when working on programming problems where I get stumped.

On a side note, where are the jokes about waking up and realizing the mistake next to you?

Re:There is some truth to this (3, Funny)

santaliqueur (893476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743097)

On a side note, where are the jokes about waking up and realizing the mistake next to you?


slashdotters don't wake up next to female mistakes. you need more sleep.

Sleep (1)

Aggrav8d (683620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742876)

So.... score one for the narcoleptics?

A Two-fer... (3, Interesting)

Vexler (127353) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742895)

So far today, /. tells us that we shouldn't study that hard if we want to stay sane [bloomberg.com] , and now this. It reminds me of that quote from "The Sea Wolf" where Wolf Larsen said of his brother Death Larsen, "He is too busy living life to think about it. My mistake was in opening the books."

Happy Friday.

Dispassion (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742897)

I think that the overall accuracy of a slept-upon decision may be also partly to do with the attenuation of some emotional factors in the decision making process- we're probably a bit less passionate about a decision like buying a car or a house when we've had some distance and a chance to sleep on it. Logic would have more of an influence in the decision making process, which should result in better decisions.

Of course, like a lot of other posters to this thread, if you let me sleep on it, I may come back to you with a better decision.

More proof (1)

IainMH (176964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742898)

More proof that Mother was right all along...

HAAAAAAAA (1)

chrisnewbie (708349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742900)

that explains why my boss always looks asleep at work!

I get it.

Does this tie in with dreaming? (1)

zenmojodaddy (754377) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742905)

For the past three years or so, I've been keeping a diary of all my dreams that I can remember on waking. Mostly, they're pretty garbled, but sometimes there is some resonance with a real world problem.
 
Not explicitly, of course; it tends to be on a metaphorical level. Dreaming of spiders usually means I'm distressed or under pressure, for example, since spiders give me the wiggins; any dream involving people who are masked or whose faces are otherwise occluded means I feel threatened.

So... is dreaming part of the decision-making process?

Book recommendation (1)

qwijibo (101731) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742911)

I recently read Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking [amazon.com] which discusses this in more detail. Basically, people with a great deal of experience in a subject develop a gut feeling that is most likely accurate and much faster than trying to analyze why they came to that conclusion. Much of this does happen at a subconscious level, whether awake or asleep.

Re:Book recommendation (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743053)

I HEAR THAT!

My wife and I takle problems completely in different ways.

I'm more the emotional type that makes decisions without knowing WHY I made them...it just felt like the right decision.

She is one who analyzes things to deal, but can always offer clear consise, sequential steps for solving problems.

Interestingly enough, I'm usually the one that ends up appeasing everyone involved instead, as opposed to her method which seems to technically get the problem solved, but leaves people not so happy around her.

Now I have some FACTS as to why my way works for me.

Thanks Slashdot!

Yo Grark

Re:Book recommendation (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743112)

Dood, they have these things called SPELL CHECKS and PREVIEW!

Yo Grark

How about the morning shower?? (1)

mswope (242988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742917)

It seems that all my best ideas and clear thinking occur during my morning shower.

Maybe this is the manifestation of all the great thinking I've done while I've been sleeping.

Not Surprising (2, Interesting)

trongey (21550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742919)

I've noticed that when I'm really struggling with a decision it's usually because I intuitively feel that one choice is right, but I'm trying to figure out how to make a more attractive choice be the right one. Sleeping on it gives me a chance to let go of the emotional attachment.

Utterly surreal results? (1)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742922)

I don't think I'd better use this approach, based on what my dreams are like. The people I work with aren't going to be too receptive to ideas like, "Okay, to fix the problem with the network, we need to take all the computer outside and have my dead grandparents carry them like babies through the elementary school I attended where the underground bunker has mice for parents"...

Funny example (3, Funny)

bogie (31020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742924)

"the conscious mind should be trusted only with simple decisions, such as selecting a brand of oven glove."

Yes but just think how good a job you could do picking out the right oven glove if you slept on it? The mind boggles.

I think you mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742978)

...how WELL a job. Please, proper Angloish.

Subconscious at work. (2, Interesting)

Overneath42 (905500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742930)

I agree with this wholeheartedly. Many people misunderstand or underestimate the power of the subconscious mind. Your conscious being is only a small fraction of who you really are. Just as the human brain has unmeasured amounts of unrealized potential, similarly the subconscious mind has an almost immeasurable effect on your conscious decision making.

Lucid dreaming is one of the most concrete examples of the subconscious mind at work - people have solved waking problems such as phobias or unresolved stresses by encountering and questioning dream figures. It's a well-documented scientific phenomenon.

This page [web-us.com] has some general information about lucidity and use of the subconscious.

Interesting Research (2, Interesting)

ChuckDivine (221595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742938)

I'll start with a personal story. I tend to take a long time to purchase an automobile. In 1998, for example, I decided it was time to buy a new car. The automobile I owned was 7 years old and starting to show problems. I began by doing some reading. GM gave me the opportunity to briefly test drive a number of models at one time. After doing that, I reviewed automotive literature (e.g., Car and Driver) about what was available and what the staff thought of various automobiles. I was beginning to be inclined to a moderately economical sports model. C&D said nice things about the Camaro. Months passed. I read some more. Looked at a Toyota and a Honda. They were a bit more than I wanted to spend. Finally, a local dealer was running a sale. I showed up and found out I could get an even bigger discount because my company was a nonautomotive GM subsidiary. I wound up with a new Camaro at a great price. Over the next five years my mechanic told me the car, with proper maintenance, would last 200K miles. I was a bit surprised at that. Anyway, the automobile was more than satisfactory.

Then in 2004 I was rear ended -- badly by a truck. The car was declared a total loss. Since I hadn't even been thinking of buying a new vehicle, I was thrown for a loop. The other guy's insurance company gave me three days to get a replacement vehicle. I asked friends what to do. They advised me to buy a second hand Camaro from a reputable dealer. That's what I did. I'm still happy with the replacement. Still, though, I think I would be happier if the insurance company had given me more time to think about what I would do. I could see myself going with a new Toyota or Honda, rather than an identical vehicle. Since I wasn't given the time, though, I simply repeated my decision of five years earlier.

People in my area (Washington, DC) are stressed out from too much to do and too little sleep. I see people making all sorts of decisions that are at best unwise, at worst destructive. Sleeping on a decision, taking the "luxury" of time, both conscious and unconscious, would, I think, improve the quality of decision making around here. Some of us do manage to do that. I can see better results by doing that rather than the mode where people are always "on." 24/7 looks like folly, not dedication.

Re:Interesting Research (2, Informative)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743079)

The other guy's insurance company gave me three days to get a replacement vehicle. I asked friends what to do.
Your mistake was accepting the three day limitation. I was in a similar situation. They gave me an unreasonable offer. In a calm voice, I said, "That is not reasonable. And need I remind you that YOUR client was at fault. Call me back with a reasonable offer." I hung up. 30 seconds later they called back with a reasonable offer. Insurance companies like to make all sorts of demands, if they are unreasonable say no.

Sleep vs. Meditation (1)

Hellboy0101 (680494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742948)

It would be interesting to see if there are any similarities between sleep and deep meditation in relation to problem solving. Of course that would mean that science would have to concede an actual benefit to alternative medicine. Can't have that now, can we?

Re:Sleep vs. Meditation (2, Interesting)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743071)

I think you'll find those results interesting. This is a frustrating topic for me because it interests me far past my capacity to grasp and really chew on all of the research that is being done discovering just how the brain stores memory.

From what I understand (and I'll be cruicified for sure if I'm wrong) , the lag between the point where a memory is retreived based on some sort of stimulation (i.e. you smell a perfume your high school girlfriend used to wear) and the time you become aware you've even remembered it is staggering by brain measuring standards.

Apparently this is the transition from gut instinct to rational thought. If no established pattern exists in your wiring to relate that type of memory to that type of stimulation then "all you have to go on is a gut instinct".

So the notion that you may make better decisions while your brain's initrd is still loading isn't just showing how cool of a machine you have in your head .. its also probably a correct notion .. based again on my (admitted limited) understanding of what is being discovered.

I'd post a link, unfortunately the article I'm basing this on is in a Scientific American, and that could be one of many. I'm motivated only to post, not to get out of my chair.

Isn't that always the way? (2, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742954)

At least for me, this is always the way. After a certain point, there is nothing to be gained from continuing to bach away at something. Do something else; play with something; get some sleep and look at it fresh in the morning. I always like to have a couple of background projects at work for just this purpose. Some of them have actually turned out to be useful.

Reminds me of the job offer that produced my current position. I told my boss-to-be that the offer was good and I was inclined to accept it. But on general principles I would sleep on it and make it official the next morning.

Reminds me also of a spectral analysis simulation I did in one of my grad courses. One part of it just didn't work. The results were nonsensical, but I had a deadline, wrote it up anyway, and included a mention that the results in one section were suspect. I then did other things over the weekend, looked at it again, saw the problem immediately, reran the simulation, got good results, wrote them up and handed them in. The professor was pleased, saying that this was just what a grad student should do. I got an A in the course.

...laura

Unconscious Decision Making (2, Interesting)

Jon Luckey (7563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742968)

Screw rationality "Use the Force Luke! Let Go!"

Seems like its not that the subconcious mind makes better decisions, but that the subconcious mind can make your life miserable if it disagrees.

Regarding big decisions (2, Interesting)

defile (1059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742972)

I find that in the mornings I'm prepared for all out war. Take on the big fish, sue the bastards who need suing, fight for every last dime that's mine, buy low sell high, haggle with the insurance company for lower premiums, uphold civil liberties, take the principled stand.

At night? Be cautious. Don't make noise. Try to work things out amicably. Or just surrender. Run from the fights. Sure, you can search my bag, officer.

Knowing that I am this way, how can I make any decision at all that I can live with? Just bust a fuck-it, I guess.

Alternate theory (4, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742973)

Since sleep and dreaming are linked with learning, it could be the other way around. Rather than making a decision in your sleep that you will be satisfied with when away, you could be learning to accept the decision you made while awake (consciencely or unconsciencely). The next day you wake up believing you made a decision in your sleep but really just imprinted your previous decision more firmly.

That isn't to say you can't figure stuff out while asleep. I'm still glad my brain decided to solve a differential equation while sleeping. I sure wasted enough time working on it awake.

So who know. Maybe it's a constantly changing mix of solving and acceptance.

anecdotal, but... (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742975)

...this corresponds with my personal observation that many a difficult programming task has been solved by my brain not as I thought about it but later on, during my shower in the morning. In fact, so many "tough" programming tasks have been solved while I've been not consciously thinking about them that I nowadays don't hardly try to force a solution anymore...I just sort of wait and almost inevitably something comes to me later...

Sleep, maybe dream (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14742984)

Not always (or maybe almost never) remember when concious my last night dreams, and sometimes when i do and start to think on it, i think what im looking at in the dream dont match with the "script" of it, what in the sleep i interpret im doing or where i am. Maybe is not the dream by itself what is important, but the morning interpretation of it.

Be right or not, there are documented examples of people taking right choices or inspirations based on dreams, like i.e. Kekule's dream on benzene structure [wikipedia.org] or other famous cases [dreamtree.com] .

I don't believe it at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14742991)

Uh huh... then how come when I go to sleep at 2 in the morning and wake up at 7, my new thoughts are "class isn't important, go back to sleep!"? I never had this idea BEFORE I went to bed, but after I woke up, I don't want to go. Thus, something must have changed over the course of my sleeping that made me want to do the laziest thing in the world, rather than the smartest.

This doesn't sound like the best decision making to me! Am I broken?

At last (4, Funny)

MORB (793798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743003)

A scientific proof that "never do today what can be procrastinated until tomorrow" is the right way of doing things.

Something to ponder (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743005)

We should look at countries that still do afternoon siestas. I bet we'd find better decision making there than in the work, work, work, work until you die United States.

I'd love this type of schedule: In the office at say, 7:30AM then out from noon to 5PM. Work 5PM to 8PM. Talk about efficiency.

A timely article! (1)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743007)

If you've ever tried to come up with a name for a domain (or MMO character), you know how hard it is to find a good one that isn't already taken.

I have a knack this, as long as I don't try too hard and just let the names percolate up through my subconscious. Last night I thought of the perfect domain name, and this morning I registered it. It's short, easy to remember, and fits what I want to do with it perfectly.

No, I won't say what it is.

Let the inevitable gay sex jokes from ACs commence.

take nap or... (1)

ShortBeard (740119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743009)

Make a snap decision. Research shows making quick choices are often better than prolonged study of the problem/purchase

If the doors (1)

KrisCowboy (776288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743023)

If the doors of perception are cleansed, things would appear to a man as they truly are - infinite. Go to bed.

That's ``unconscious'' (3, Informative)

General Lee's Peking (954826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743032)

I had a psychology teacher who pointed out that the term ``subconscious'' is pretty much a Hollywood popularized word. You're either talking about being conscious or not being conscious, that is, unconscious. The writer of the article seems to agree with her because they don't use the term subconscious. Sorry to nitpick, but the word unconscious communicates the idea more clearly, while the subconscious is vague. Besides, I think it's safe to say that if you're asleep, you're unconscious.

Chuck Norris... (5, Funny)

mcho (878145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743038)

Chuck Norris doesn't sleep -- he waits.

Star Trek had it right (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743045)

Picard: "Sleep..."
Beverly: "He's regaining consciousness."
Picard: "Sleep..."
Troi: "It's Captain Picard speaking, not Locutus."
Picard: "Sleep, Data."
Beverly: [To Picard] "You're exhausted."
Data: "Yes, Doctor."
Data: "If I may make a supposition. I do not believe his message was intended to express fatigue, but to suggest a course of action."
Riker: "Mister Crusher, engag--"
Data: "Data to Bridge, standby."
Data: "I am attempting to penetrate the Borg regenerate subcommand path. It is a low priority system that may be accessable."

... a few moments pass as Datas face twitches ...

Riker: "Mister Data, your final report."
Data: "Standby."
Riker: "I *can't*, Mister Data!"

... a few moments pass then silence ...

Riker: "Mister Data, what the hell happened?"
Data: "I successfully planted a command into the Borg collective consciousness. It misdirected them to believe that it was time to regenerate. In effect, I put them all to sleep."
Riker: "'Sleep'?"
Data: "Yes, sir."

Oh wait, this article talks about what happens when your subconscious mind goes into action, not what happens when you shut down a Borg cube and thus don't have to ram your ship into it.

thought this was interesting (0, Offtopic)

revery (456516) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743056)

Job 33:15-16

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;
16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

unconsious != subconsious (2, Insightful)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743057)

I would think there are enough geeks here to know that!

No Surprise (1)

GWSuperfan (939629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743074)

This should come as no surprise to most slashdotters. I mean, come on- How many times have you been trying to figure out a way to code a particular function or determine the best way to approach a problem, only to wake up in the middle of the night (or whenever your normal sleep period occurs) with the solution. I've driven multiple roommates insane with what they call "crazy" behavior- Waking up at 3 or 4 AM, covering every scrap of paper I can get my hands on with code, and passing back out.

Roommate: "What's all this?"
Me: "Don't touch that. I have all those pages laid out in a specific order for a reason. I just figured out a better way to do the database interaction for [project] last night."
Roommate: "Dude, you are so freaking wierd."

Why do things get discovered over and over? (2, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743105)

Haven't people "discovered" this every few years for the past century or so? I'm pretty sure the Surrealists explored this territory.

Isn't this how our economy works? (4, Interesting)

bomb_number_20 (168641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743108)

Marketers have known this for years. Marketing departments spend huge amounts of money exploring ways to nudge people into making the 'impulse buy' and trick them into unwise decisions. Grocery stores line their queues with trinkets and small items. Best buy is even worse- forcing people to wind their way through a twisty aisle made of boxes of small, inexpensive items to get to the checkout counter. Once, when shopping for a car, the salesman asked me 'What would it take for you to buy this car today?'. The list goes on... and, it seems to me, we are making worse and less informed decisions as time goes on.

Trying to find real information on a product is sometimes very difficult. Instead of making better products, companies make a cheaper product and spend a little more on marketing to promote it.

blah blah blah... im getting offtopic...

I think it's an issue of context. I don't think it's that you're sleeping on it, but rather you are thinking about the issue outside the context of marketing and environmental pressures. Removing something from context generally allows you to see that thing more clearly.

Scary (1)

spindleguy (931475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743110)

In the 15 years I've been with my wife she has "blessed" or "scorned" many middle to larger purchases based on whether she dreamed positively about it.

Obviously she has to have the opportunity to "sleep on it"

Which does leave me an "out" for impulse buys! (not that there are many of those)

Very interesting concept (1)

ScottLindner (954299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14743117)

This is a very interesting concept. Before I make any decisions about using this technique in the future, I better sleep on it.
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