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WHAT! Scientists suggest “our sleep reflects our risk-taking”

Researchers have shown that sleep-related brain waves may predict an individual’s risk propensity. Slow waves occur during deep sleep and signify high sleep quality and regeneration, according to a new study in NeuroImage. “Less slow waves across the right prefrontal cortex means more danger. This brain area is vital for impulse regulation, among other things “Daria Knoch, a neuroscientist

The topographical distribution of slow waves in the brain is extremely unique and consistent throughout time. The researchers analysed 54 “excellent sleepers” who generally sleep seven to eight hours to see whether this profile revealed anything regarding risk tendency. These were found using actigraphs, which measure sleep movement patterns. According to research leader Lorena Gianotti, “the unique slow-wave profile can only be understood during regular sleep.”

The next stage was to gather sleep data at participants’ residences using portable polysomnographic equipment with 64 scalp electrodes. “The great density of data gathered by the 64 electrodes and the undisturbed observation of brain activity during sleep in a familiar setting is unique in sleep research. This lets the participants sleep normally and collects a lot of data “Mirjam Studler, the first author, agreed. Participants with lower slow-wave activity across their right prefrontal cortex are more prone to risk than those with higher slow-wave activity.

The participants had to determine how far they would drive a vehicle knowing that at some time a wall would materialise with which the automobile would hit. As they drove more metres, they risked more crashes.

“Interestingly, in our research of excellent sleepers, sleep length had no effect on risk propensity. Rather, deep sleep must occur in the right-brain areas — specifically, the right prefrontal cortex “Lorena Gianotti said.

Risky behaviour has significant health and financial effects, according to health economics studies. The experts say it’s critical to better understand the mechanics behind dangerous behaviour. “Lessons learned may inform targeted treatments. Researchers are currently working on ways to control slow waves during sleep “Knoch remarked

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