Why You Should Avoid Making Major Life Decisions at Night – Insights from Psychology on Emotions and Decision-Making

The famous ancient Greek philosopher and thinker Thales once said: Human beings are just obedient animals during the day, and they are living people with souls at night.

Have you ever noticed that most painters, writers, poets, singers and other literary and artistic workers are used to creating at night? This is because people are usually more emotional, think more divergent and sensitive at night, and experience more things that are not easy to detect during the day. Seize the inspiration.

But behaviorist psychologists believe:
Never make any decisions at night unless absolutely necessary.

Many people have had this experience: sleepiness often sweeps over them at 8 or 9 p.m., their brains spin slowly, and they want to fall asleep immediately, but for various reasons we do not choose to fall asleep so early.

So after this period of time, the brain seems to be activated again. Not only are we no longer sleepy, but we also feel much more energetic than before.

But the strange thing is that the decisions we make at this time are always unsatisfactory when we wait until daytime the next day. For example, we regret buying something the next day and return it immediately.

This is because the brain’s thinking ability, which is reactivated at night , is inhibited . The decisions made at this time are no longer so rational, but have many emotional colors.

We divide the day into four stages, morning, noon, afternoon and evening.

In the first three stages, we constantly receive information from the outside world, process it through the brain, and then feed it back to others. At this time, the brain is busy and running at a high speed, and rationality dominates the busier brain.
At night, when we return home, our bodies and minds relax, and our brains become free. As the external stimulus information decreases, the processing of internal information increases.

At this time, it is easier for us to think about the truest thoughts buried in our hearts. At this time, sensibility defeats reason and dominates the thinking activities of the brain.

Especially in the dead of night, when the brain is free, it is easy for us to think of the past and those people who are still a little bit brooding about us.

At this time, we tend to fall into memories and immerse ourselves in a separate world of our own, and our thinking is mostly led by the “heart” rather than the “brain”.

What is “heart”? What is “brain”?

Freud, a psychoanalytic psychologist, divided personality structure into three levels: id, ego and superego.
I follow the “pleasure principle” here, that is, I am happy whenever I want, and it does not satisfy social moral constraints. It is innate and represents the most primitive human desires that can best satisfy instinctive impulses, such as hunger, anger, sexual desire, etc., which are irrational and unsocialized.

The self is located between the “id” and “superego” in the personality structure. Its role is to connect the previous and the following and mediate contradictions. The self follows the “reality principle”, satisfies our inner requirements in a reasonable way, and is constrained by realistic conditions.

The superego is the regulator in our personality structure, the moralized self, which is internalized from many ethics and morals and follows “moral principles” – that is, what we do must meet moral requirements.

Therefore, from another perspective, decisions made at night are often real and the closest to human nature, and are more in line with our inner irrational impulses.

The “self” personality structure is dominant at this moment, so the decisions at this time are more based on our emotional “heart” to do whatever we want. Many of them are divorced from legal regulations and moral constraints, and do not meet the needs of society. .

And we are in the social environment during the day. Under rational thinking, we have to respect the “reality principle” and use our “brains” to think and weigh the pros and cons.

“Self” becomes dominant at this time, because of realistic factors, our actions are disguised, and the urge to realize “real” ideas will make us continue to be anxious.

At night, after our brains relax, the truest “self” emerges again, so we make many emotional decisions at this time that do not follow the constraints of reality.

For example, when a couple quarrels, they say things like “It’s better to get a divorce” and “It’s better for us to be separated for a while.”

The relationship between a man and a woman has obviously not reached that stage yet, but they rush to express their feelings. No matter whether the result is failure or success, they will still regret it the next day and feel that they were too impulsive.
Or maybe you make up your mind to send a message to your boss to resign at night, but find out the next day that surviving is more important than being scolded.

What do we do when we have free time?

When we are busy, we don’t think about much other than being busy. And when we stop, our thoughts fail to fill our hearts, and we become empty.

When you are empty, there are often two situations:
Fill the void inside by thinking more through divergent thinking

Make yourself feel less lonely by connecting with others

On the one hand, you will fill the gaps in your heart through divergent thinking, start to think wildly, recall the past, and continue to deepen.

Subjectively connecting multiple unrelated events that one has experienced before, and collecting evidence for the connection between them, leading to excessive recall of things, and then generating many emotions.

And these emotions can make us more extreme and make less rational decisions.

Another situation is that humans, as social animals, like to relieve loneliness through communication with others. This is also the reason why boys and girls who are in their prime of life often choose to express their love at night.

At this time, people’s emotions will become liquid, their thinking will become more irrational, and their true feelings will be revealed unknowingly, and they will be more willing to share with others what they usually keep in their hearts.

But if you accidentally communicate too much with others at night, you will often regret it when you wake up early the next morning.

When is the best time to make a decision?

In order to clarify this issue, researchers used the length of the decision-making time difference and the correctness and error rates of decisions to study the quality of the subjects’ real behavioral decisions.

In one of the experiments, the researchers studied 184 free Internet server users and found that in this experiment, these subjects tended to take 3-15 minutes to make 40 decision actions.

Through a series of complex studies, researchers analyzed the complex thinking of the subjects and finally showed that the most suitable time for making decisions is from 8 am to 1 pm. During this time, the decisions we make are most accurate.
The findings were eventually published in the scientific journal Cognition.

It is easy for us to make decisions when we are in a bad mood. We are too easily led by the unknown negative emotions late at night. Please remember: we are the masters of our emotions, not our emotions.
Controlling emotions is a science. Only when we get along well with our emotions and understand their origin can we truly become the masters of our emotions.
Many celebrity writers, including Haruki Murakami, advise us that sleeping is the best way to deal with bad emotions.

When you feel irritable, go for exercise, calm down and think carefully, and don’t make decisions at the critical point of collapse.

Bi Shumin suggests that it is best not to make decisions on rainy days, as rainy days can also affect your mood; sunny days are suitable for making decisions, and the decisions we make seem to be consistent with the weather. Decisions made on sunny days have the flavor of sunshine.

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