Lessons From Las Vegas to Make You Healthier

I came across a study from the March 9, 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience that had some interesting info relating to Las Vegas and your health (if you read into the a bit).

Stick with me for the boring sciencey part…it’ll be worth it!

You have one section of your brain that is actually devoted to focusing on positive outcomes to a risk (ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and a different part of your brain devoted to understanding the potential negative effects to any risk you take (anterior insula). You can think of these as your risk / reward centers.

Well it turns out, when you are sleep deprived, the portion of your brain that assesses the negative consequences to your action works at a much slower rate.

There is actual science behind WHY Las Vegas revolves around being open late at night. This is not a function of will-power or something you can control. You actually cannot properly / fully assess the potential negative consequences of your actions when you are sleep deprived….BUT…this is the important part…you can STILL evaluate and perceive the positive outcomes.

Meaning if you bet $25 on say a blackjack hand, in the back of your mind, you can easily envision the $25 you stand to win, but the awareness $25 you stand to lose goes down when you are sleep deprived.

Hope you stuck with me, here is how this relates to your health!!!

When you are sleep deprived, the positive outcomes of any action you take are magnified and negative consequences are diminished. When you look at that pizza or Twinkie or whatever else you normally might not eat, when you are sleep deprived you naturally will not consider how bad the food might be for you, but you will be aware of the immediate taste, etc associated with whatever you eat. Will-power can only fight this so much…it’s how you are wired. Maybe it isn’t as pronounced…maybe if you are sleep deprived you eat some sugary cereal for breakfast rather than spending time to make a healthier eggs and turkey bacon breakfast. These things tend to add up.

You are also more likely to make other poor choices with regards to your health. Some more serious ones are taking unnecessary risks while driving or perhaps how you interact with people. Maybe you skip your chiropractic appointment or don’t feel like brushing your teeth in the morning (both equally gross).

What can you do about this? Of course the obvious solution is to not be sleep deprived and you won’t have to worry about this! If you do happen to miss out some some sleep, just be aware that this is going on. If you happen to miss some sleep, this is not an excuse for you to do things you shouldn’t. Try to be more aware and think through things a little longer and more carefully.

Oh and if you’re going to play some cards, do it in the middle of the day! 🙂

las vegas