With potentially sleep-deprived politicians finalizing negotiations to help the financial crisis in Greece, The Guardian examines the impact of no sleep on decision making.
The Greek government and its eurozone creditors have reached a deal after marathon all-night talks, but can we trust the decisions and deals of sleep-deprived politicians?
Were the negotiators sleep deprived?
The talks lasted almost 17 hours through the night and into Monday morning. Politicians emerged to announce the deal looking weary and red-eyed.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone’s top official, said he did manage to sleep for a few hours. But he also emerged from the talks looking exhausted.
Does sleep deprivation hamper decision-making?
Yes, according to Prof Michael Chee, director of the centre for cognitive neuroscience at at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, who likens late-night negotiations to torture. “It’s a horrible way to make a decision,” he said, noting photographs of Angela Merkel looking half asleep. He said: “It is kind of last-man-or-woman-standing situation in Brussels. When you’re sleep deprived your ability to process new information drops, your ability to deal with distraction is impaired, and your short-term memory declines. All the fundamental elementals of having to process information rapidly are diminished.”