Sunday 13 February 2022

Nerd Church - We Don't Make Good Decisions When We're Tired, OK?

'Three in the morning is never the time to try and sort out your life.'

- Matt Haig, Reasons To Stay Alive

'We Don't Make Good Decisions When We're Tired, OK?' with starry background

Most of us have been there - it's a ridiculous time in the night, you're utterly shattered, and you're still trying to get things done.

You inevitably make a mistake -

because you should be sleeping 

- and you decide that your entire life is a sh**-show, and you need to leave everything you know behind and move to the mountains and breed chinchillas or something equally random.

(...Unless that's a long-held ambition of yours, in which case don't let me stop ya!)

But before, in your fit of tired delirium, you put a down-payment on that chinchilla farm, you might wanna pause.

Chill. Take a break. Maybe get some sleep.

...And don't put any bids in until you've had time to think this through. No matter how much your brain is yelling at you to Take Action Now!

There's actually research that says we make less accurate decisions later in the day, because - to highly paraphrase the scientific phrase 'cognitive fatigue' - we're tired and grumpy.

It's uber-easy, when you're either a) tired, b) alone in the middle of the night, or c) both, to catastrophize the f**k outta everything.

(Catastrophizing, as I've explained before, is a type of cognitive distortion which turns small problems into Big Freaking Problems™)

It's actually a natural thing*, imho - way back in pre-history, more hooman beans survived if they thought the shadows were tigers than if they thought the tiger was a shadow.

That's probably also why we feel like we've got to take action at midnight, after a tough day of work, to reserve that shipment of chinchillas** - 

the humans who took action and either moved away from the danger, or investigated and found there was no tiger, had a higher survival rate than the ones who ignored the problem.

But in our modern lives, it can be pretty unhelpful - especially if you're working on problems or tasks which have more nuanced factors and outcomes than tiger vs not-tiger.

*dependant on your stance on various aspects of evolutionary psychology and my personal theories of it 😎😘

**since this analogy is continuing for longer than I originally intended, I'd like to assure everyone that I've never tried to buy a chinchilla farm 😅

Basically: we don't make good decisions when we're tired, OK?

Neither do we make good decisions when we don't think we're tired, but it's also three in the morning and we haven't slept all day/night.

We make poor decisions late at night in general.

There are exceptions, of course, every generalisation has an exception

(...including this one 😅 #Paradox)

There are people who can make very good decisions at night and/or when they're tired. There are people who work at night and sleep in the day and make a good job of it.

But for most of us?

Night isn't the time to try to sort your life out. At best, you're gonna make zero sense, and look back at it in the morning like: ...WTF?

You can also get yourself worked up into all sorts of not-so-fun thought spirals. Trust me, I've been there and done that.

And you might even end up ordering a bunch of chinchillas - who knows? 😅


  • Take time to think things through

  • 3am thoughts are rarely reliable

  • It's true what they say: it'll seem better in the morning

  • Get some sleep!

So, do you cease to make sense when you're tired?
Or are you one of the magical people who can somehow make decisions when exhausted?
Talk to me! 😀💬

You can follow me on Twitter @CeeDoraReads, on Pinterest, and on Dora Reads @ BlogLovin. For more ways to support me, check out the Support Me page

Related Reading:

Sharing and commenting is beautiful! 😘


  1. This is so true. My problems always feel overwhelming at night time, but in the morning it doesn't seem as bad. I've never thought about it from an evolutionary standpoint but that makes so much sense.

    1. Yup - we were more vulnerable at night, so it just makes sense that we'd be more on edge! <3

  2. "It's uber-easy, when you're either a) tired, b) alone in the middle of the night, or c) both, to catastrophize the f**k outta everything."
    Oh, so true. Like when you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or drink a glass of water, and after going back to bed you start tossing and turning because something comes to mind and seems even more horrible than it is. maybe is that horrible, but the light of day puts it into a different perspective, which is good for your sanity...

    That being said, I don't make decision when I'm sleep-deprived, and I don't even read or stuff at times like that. My brain does enjoy working properly LOL.

    1. Ugh when I get up to go to the loo I end up either a) convinced I've locked the cat in the bathroom (meaning I have to get up again... and sometimes again after that) or b) 100% sure that there are spiders, to the point of flailing at said imaginary spiders to keep them away from my face. (Sometimes there are real spiders in the bathroom *shudders*)

  3. This is why I play Wordle in the morning. I know some people stay awake until the new daily puzzle is posted. I'm too tired for midnight Wordle!

    1. Lol. I don't actually play that (*shocked gasps*) - mostly because if something's hyped to hell then I feel like I end up unjustly hating it because I'm so sick of hearing about it... lol. I might try it at some point. *shrugs*

  4. Reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite sit-coms, How I Met Your Mother: "nothing good happens after 3am." I really felt this last night. I was tossing and turning, overthinking and giving too much weight to my thoughts despite the fact that I was just overtired and fired up after watching Olympic snowboarding. It's best to just not let those 3am thoughts rule my life!

    1. Super-tricky to do when it's actually 3am though! Hope you get some sleep soon <3


Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!