How Fatigue Affects Your Thinking and Performance

Every time I get really tired, I find myself getting very awkward. When I find myself dropping a few cups, hitting my knee on the table, and opening the door right in my face in a couple of hours, it’s usually a sign that I’m overtired.

Being awkward is pretty frustrating and usually enough to make me realize that I need to run to bed. But there are many other ways that fatigue affects us that are not so obvious. Understanding them doesn’t necessarily mean we can overcome them, but we can better understand the consequences and, more importantly, try to avoid sleep deprivation altogether.

This post originally appeared on the Crew blog .

Fatigue means we risk less

When it comes to decision making, you might think fatigue is a bad condition, especially when making important decisions. However, this may depend on the decision.

Research shows that we are more likely to lean towards safer solutions when we are tired. For example, gamble less or risk less for something unsubstantiated. A series of five studies found that tired participants were less likely to take risks, were more likely to choose foods that emphasize safety features, and were more likely to take precautions such as doing health tests.

Whether you are making a decision about your health or spending money, you can see this trend as a positive thing. Try shopping when you’re tired and see if you’re less likely to make impulse purchases – this can be an interesting experiment.

On the other hand, you’re probably less likely to meet someone new or try a new experience when you’re tired. The studies I mentioned above showed that participants felt more vulnerable to risks when they were tired, leading to more cautious choices. This can be a problem if you are attending a networking event or traveling and want to be able to take a little risk to get more out of it.

Knowing how fatigue can affect your choices means you can prepare ahead of time by taking a nap before a social event or managing your travel schedule to get some sleep.

When we get tired we go back to old habits

When I was researching my recent post on junk food addiction , I was surprised to find that we don’t necessarily choose unhealthy foods when we get tired. In fact, we arereturning to our normal habits . So for me this is tantamount to eating junk food quickly and easily, but for those who have made the effort to develop healthy eating habits, they will return to it when they get tired.

It can work in almost every area of ​​your life. For example, if you have a really strong habit of taking a short walk before bed every night, fatigue will mean that it will be easier for you to fall into the habit than to resist the effort. In fact, resisting your habitual actions, even if they are beneficial, takes more effort.

This is very good news. This means that if you need to make an effort to develop strong, healthy habits , you can relax knowing that fatigue should not make it difficult to maintain them.

As you begin to form these habits, these tired moments will inevitably turn into struggles as your old habits want to work. One trick I have found to help with this is to prepare a list that is ready for these moments. Vlad Dolezal wrote on his blog about how he uses this method:

I have a leaflet on my wall that says “Vladilland’s Food.”

It talks about all the foods I love to cook regularly and what ingredients are required for that.

This list can be life-saving when I’m tired and don’t know what I want to cook. I can just look at it, imagine every dish when I look at it, and when my body says, “Yes! Let’s eat it! “, I know what to cook. No hard thinking is required.

Vlad also has a list of work-related tasks that he can perform, sorted by energy consumption:

Before I had this list, I sometimes put it off for later because I couldn’t remember what else to work on.

It helps him stay productive, although it will be easier to procrastinate.

Tired bodies don’t work that well

Fatigue affects more than just our thinking. Our body struggles to function without getting enough sleep.

Research has shown that fatigue means athletes perform at a lower level than usual. Our reaction and strength suffer from fatigue and we struggle to get as much out of our body as possible. Several studies have shown improved athletic performance after athletes get more sleep on a regular basis. The results were the same for swimming, tennis, basketball and football.

Our body also needs sleep in order to properly recover from exercise or exercise. If we don’t get enough sleep for our muscles to recover, they will work less the next day and our chances of injury will increase . So the lack of sleep becomes even more dangerous over time as the effects begin to worsen.

A link has even been found between the length of a professional sports career and the amount of sleep players sleep. The table below shows players from a baseball study compared to their “sleepiness score” (the higher the score, the more sleepy they felt). Each blue player was active three years after research, while each white player became inactive or demoted:

Since the cognitive benefits of sleep affect our physical performance , there are many reasons to focus on getting more and better sleep every night.

This is what happens if you work when you get tired | Crew


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