The coupling of short sleep duration and high sleep need predicts riskier decision making

Esther Yuet Ying LAU, Mark Lawrence WONG, Benjamin RUSAK, Yeuk Ching LAM, Yun Kwok WING, Chia-huei TSENG, Tatia Mei Chun LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To examine how risk-related decision making might be associated with habitual sleep variables, including sleep variability, sleep duration and perceived sleep need in young adults cross-sectionally and longitudinally.
Design: 166 participants completed a 7-day protocol with sleep and risk-related decision-making measures at baseline (T1) and 12 months later (T2).
Results: Habitual short sleep duration (averaging < 6 h nightly) was identified in 11.0% in our sample. After controlling for baseline demographic factors and risk-taking measures, self-reported sleep need at T1 interacted with habitual short sleep in predicting risk taking at follow-up (F8,139=9.575, adjusted R2=.431, p<.001). T1 greater perceived sleep need predicted more risk taking among short sleepers, but decreased risk taking among normal sleepers at T2. Variable sleep timing was cross-sectionally correlated with making more Risky choices at baseline and fewer Safe choices after loss at follow up.
Conclusions: Young adults with variable sleep timing and those with short sleep duration coupled with high perceived sleep need were more likely to take risks. The moderating effects of perceived sleep need suggest that individual differences may alter the impact of sleep loss and hence should be measured and accounted for in future studies. Copyright © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology & Health
Early online dateApr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Apr 2019


Decision Making
Young Adult

Bibliographical note

Lau, E. Y. Y., Wong, M. L., Rusak, B., Lam, Y. C., Wing, Y. K., Tseng, C.-H., & Lee, T. M. C. (2019). The coupling of short sleep duration and high sleep need predicts riskier decision making. Psychology & Health. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2019.1594807


  • Chronic sleep restriction
  • Risk-taking behaviour
  • Sleep duration
  • Sleep variability
  • Sleep need
  • Short sleeper