Alaska Sleep Education Center

The Importance of Sleep for Expert Negotiators

Posted by Simon Beaufort

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on Aug 29, 2019 11:41:00 AM


Sleep deprivation can make you feel grumpy and foggy-headed. Not having a clear head can affect your decision-making. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, lack of sleep can impair your ability to combine your emotions and your mental functions. If you're sleep-deprived, you are more likely to make bad judgment calls.

Sleep deprivation may be due to:

  • Late-night preparation sessions
  • Prolonged meetings
  • Tight schedules
  • Excessive workload
  • Poor time management

According to Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, sleepiness can impede your negotiation strengths. When sleepy, you are more likely to cede the upper hand and fail to walk away with a favorable agreement. Here are nine ways sleep (or lack of sleep) may impact negotiations.

Lack of Sleep May Result in Decreased Cognition

The best negotiation training experts explain how many different factors can affect performance. Lack of sleep is one factor that can affect how you interpret events. When you're sleepy, most of your cognitive abilities reduce. For instance:

  • Speed of processing information slows down.
  • Ability to multitask weakens.
  • Ability to organize information and concepts into categories breaks down.
  • Ability to recognize patterns withers.
  • Ability to change your mind is inhibited.
  • Ability to remember instructions long enough to accomplish a task dissolves.

Cognition defines how you understand a particular situation and how you act as a result. Cognition affects what you see, what you hear, how you remember events, and how you react to those events.

A loss of cognitive abilities can affect:

  • Perception
  • Language skills
  • Motor skills
  • Social skills

All of which are important when at the negotiating table or on that important negotiation call.

Sleep Restores Creativity

When well rested, you are most likely more creative than when you're tired. When you’re exhausted, your mind can find it difficult to come up with new ideas. Quality sleep energizes our ability to synthesize information, and promotes high-level thinking.

When energized, a negotiator can contemplate new solutions to seal a deal. A well-rested negotiator is better able to consider the effects of putting into practice those suggestions.

So, sleep is necessary for creative deal-making. Lack of sleep can also hinder your imagination. In turn, this can distort your ability to anticipate the consequences of your decisions.

Sleep-Deprived People are More Likely to Cheat

According to a Harvard Business Review report, sleep deprived people are more likely to cheat. Negotiation training experts reveal that lack of sleep may cause an otherwise moral person to engage in unethical practices. Unethical behavior can damage relations and cause legal problems.

Lack of sleep affects how we exercise willpower and self-control. We are then more at risk of resorting to unethical shortcuts to achieve temporary results. For example, it may be tempting to oversell your proposition or lie about the fine print of a contract.

Sleepiness Can Result in Memory Loss

Sleepiness can cause lapses in memory for even the sharpest of people. The quantity and quality of sleep can have a profound effect on memory retention. When you're sleep deprived, you may struggle through the three stages of memory.

  • Acquisition: You may find it challenging to grasp new information.
  • Consolidation: Your brain may struggle to stabilize memories.
  • Recall: You could find it challenging to access stored information.

While acquisition and recall only happen during wakefulness, consolidation occurs when you sleep. While asleep, the brain strengthens neural connections which stabilize your memories.

Lack of sleep can interrupt the consolidation phase. Interruption of neural connections hampers the acquisition and recall processes. Therefore, a negotiator lacking sleep will likely find it challenging to keep up with discussions. When deprived of sleep, it’s common to miss conversation details that are critical to the deal.

Fatigue Breeds Attention Deficit


Lack of sleep can cause an inability to focus during essential discussions. Some attention deficit signs of a sleep-deprived negotiator include:

  • Getting easily distracted.
  • Difficulty listening to others.
  • Inability to complete tasks.
  • Overlooking details.
  • Incoherent speech patterns.
  • Trouble prioritizing.
  • Being less organized.
  • Interrupting others during conversation.
  • Not being socially appropriate.

Attention deficit caused by sleepiness may result in impulsive behavior. A sleep-deprived person may act without thinking of the consequences. This may mean triggering offense in others or making rash decisions.

Sleep Affects Stamina

When you're well rested, most times, you wake up feeling energetic and ready to go. When you lack sleep, you can lack the energy and drive to get through daily routines. You might be lacking stamina due to sleep deprivation if you exhibit some of the following signs:

  • Drowsiness
  • Not wanting to engage in physical activity
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Moodiness
  • Impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • Blurry vision
  • Low motivation

A lack of physical and mental stamina can prove detrimental to negotiators. A visible lack of stamina may cause discomfort and self-consciousness while compromising decision-making.

Fatigue Slows Down Responses

Lack of sleep can cause a decrease in your capacity to deal with the unexpected. Sleepiness disrupts normal brain neural functions, slowing down reaction times.

According to research by Tel Aviv University in Israel, sleepiness can affect the brain's visual perception and memory. The disruption leads to delayed responses to events taking place around us.

Sluggish responses can result in missed chances for claiming value.

Sleep Deprivation Can Cause Anger

Sleep affects your mood. Poor sleep patterns, not enough sleep, or low quality of sleep can all result in stress and feeling irritable.

Sleep deprivation may cause you to be curt and unsociable. These negative feelings can translate into a breakdown of talks.

Feeling bad tempered may create a negative discussion environment. In turn, mistrust and loss of goodwill can prevail. An irritable negotiator may react harshly to the slightest provocation. Your anger may result in turning down a great deal for personal reasons unrelated to the agreement.

Fatigue Prompts Anxiety

Negotiation trainers often warn trainees about being prone to bouts of anxiety if they are sleep deprived in a high-tension negotiation environment. It’s a vicious cycle. Anxiety heightens insomnia, often leading to more sleepiness and more anxiety. Lack of sleep and anxiety feed off each other, which worsens the situation.

A sleepy negotiator fighting anxiety can end up accepting an unfavorable offer. For instance, you may accept an offer at a seemingly acceptable purchase price without factoring in shipping and handling expenses. 

When anxiety levels shoot up due to lack of adequate sleep, you can reduce the effects in the morning before a meeting by:

  • Taking a nap.
  • Training/exercising.
  • Writing down a list of priorities before the meeting.
  • Taking part in yoga.
  • Listening to calming music.

Some Tips to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

It is crucial for negotiators to turn up to meetings fresh and well rested. To train against the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, negotiators can:

  • Create and stick to regular sleep routines.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least two hours before going to bed.
  • Avoid big meals too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid screens such as a computer, phone, or TV two hours before bed.
  • Exercise a few hours before bedtime.

As you have read here, lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep affects every aspect of your life.  Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive sleep lab in Alaska, which locations in Anchorage, Wasilla, Soldotna and Fairbanks.  Call us today for a FREE sleep consultation.  Also, click the link below to read ASC's:

Men and Sleep Information Flyer

It includes information on:

How men suffer from sleep apnea,

How sleep apnea affects diabetes,

How sleep apnea affects blood pressure

How sleep apnea affects testosterone levels.

Men and Sleep Flyer


Topics: Sleep, men

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