Did You Know?
Believing you've slept well, even if you haven't, improves performance.
Who even sleeps anymore? You and everyone you know are probably loading yourselves up with coffee or whatever your stimulant of choice is so you can plod through your day as some semblance of an upright human being. Then you get home and you don’t go to bed early enough because this is the only me-time you get, damn it, and if you want to watch three hours of Netflix, then you will. Or you try to go to sleep but you fail and end up tossing and turning, because sleeping is actually kind of hard, and the more you want it, the more it slips through your grasp.
But maybe the knowledge that you aren’t sleeping enough is part of what’s keeping you trapped in your swamp of lethargy during the day. Maybe if you were sweetly, blithely ignorant of your somnial failings, you’d feel more chipper and work more efficiently. In a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers from Colorado College tested the effects of being told you’re getting enough sleep—“placebo sleep,” as they call it.
Participants who were told they had above-average REM sleep performed better on the test, and those who were told their REM sleep was below average performed worse, even when researchers controlled for the subjects’ self-reported sleep quality.
A great victory was won here for lies, over truth. This study shows that if you’re in the mindset that you’re well-rested, your brain will perform better, regardless of the actual quality of your sleep. Conversely, constantly talking about how tired you are, as so often happens in our culture, might be detrimental to your performance.