Sex moderates the effects of total sleep deprivation and sleep restriction on risk preference

Jeryl Y.L. Lim, Johanna Boardman, Jeff Dyche, Clare Anderson, David L. Dickinson, Sean P.A. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Sleep loss has been shown to alter risk preference during decision-making. However, research in this area has largely focussed on the effects of total sleep deprivation (TSD), while evidence on the effects of sleep restriction (SR) or the potentially moderating role of sex on risk preference remains scarce and unclear. The present study investigated risky decision-making in 47 healthy young adults who were assigned to either of two counterbalanced protocols: well-rested (WR) and TSD, or WR and SR. Participants were assessed on the Lottery Choice Task (LCT), which requires a series of choices between two risky gambles with varying risk levels. Analyses on the pooled dataset indicated across all sleep conditions, participants were generally more risk-seeking when trying to minimise financial loss (LOSSES) than while trying to maximise financial gain (GAINS). On GAINS trials, female participants were more risk-averse during TSD and SR, whereas male participants remained unchanged. On LOSSES trials, female participants remained unchanged during TSD and SR, whereas male participants became more risk-seeking during TSD. Our findings suggest the relationship between sleep loss and risk preference is moderated by sex, whereby changes in risk preference after TSD or SR differ in men and women depending on whether the decision is framed in terms of gains or losses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsac120
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • decision-making
  • insufficient sleep
  • risk preference
  • sex
  • sleep

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