Sleep and Risk-related Decision-making in Adolescents and Young Adults

Project: Research project

Project Details


Young adults are faced with decisions involving various degrees of risks in their everyday life, ranging from substance use to career development, affecting their well-being. Previous studies using experimental sleep deprivation paradigm have demonstrated the role of sleep in risk- related decision-making. However, surprisingly little has been done on how decision-making involving risks is associated with habitual nighttime sleep behaviors and daytime napping, both of which have high ecological validity and generalizability. Using both subjective and objective measures of naturalistic nighttime sleep and experimental daytime sleep, we attempt to investigate the complex role of sleep in making risk-related decisions, as well as the moderators and mediators of the relationships. Our main hypotheses included: (1) individuals with habitual short sleep duration would have worse risk-related decision-making ability than those with normal sleep duration, and such association would be related to the discrepancies of their subjective sleep need and habitual sleep duration; (2) the Nap group would have improved risk- related decision-making ability compared to the No-nap group; (3) the napping effects would be moderated by their habitual sleep duration and sleep need; (4) the benefits of daytime napping on risk-related decision-making would be associated with polysomnographic (PSG) features (e.g. duration and latency of rapid eye movement sleep and slow wave sleep); and (5) the effect of short sleep duration and daytime sleep on risk-related decision-making ability would be mediated by other neuropsychological functions (e.g., working memory, vigilance). Participants (n=100) would complete measures on mood, general intellectual functioning, sleep and nap patterns and perception as well as sleep log and wore acti-watch for the first 5 days as measures of the habitual sleep wake behaviors. On day 6, participants will come to the Sleep Laboratory for two sessions of neuropsychological assessments (including risk-related decision-making, psychomotor vigilance, working memory, inhibitory control, and mood states). In-between testing, participants would be randomly assigned to have a daytime polysomnography-monitored sleep/rest opportunity. Participants would complete sleep diary and wore acti-watch for one more day to address the potential impact of the daytime sleep opportunity on the sleep-wake behaviors of the subsequent night. Findings of our study would bring novel knowledge to the field of sleep science on the role and interplay of nighttime and daytime sleep in risk-related decision-making and the associated electrophysiological and neuropsychological moderators and mediators. Potential implications on student health education and public policy concerning work hours of occupations involving decision-making of high risks are highlighted.

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/11/1530/04/18


  • risky decision-making
  • napping
  • sleep restriction
  • sleep need
  • cognitive


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