I'll sleep on it

The New Scientist has an interesting article on the value of an old suggestion that you ‘sleep on it’ whenever you’re faced with a difficult challenge.

“Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out, according to a new study, and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.

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.”

After describing the experiment they performed to come to these conclusions the lead researcher made the following comment.

“At some point in our evolution, we started to make decisions consciously, and we’re not very good at it. We should learn to let our unconscious handle the complicated things,” Dijksterhuis says.

‘Sleeping on it’ best for complex decisions, NewScientist, 19/02/06

Speaking as someone who’s made some rather regretable concious decisions I think this is very sound advice, and I’m off to sleep on it.

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