Think You Slept Well? Then You Did!

by Jenny Bailly

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I have sleep deprivation on the brain these days. So I was thrilled by this news: Simply believing you're well-rested is enough to make you feel that way. That's right--you can get placebo sleep.


In a Colorado College study, just published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, participants were hooked up to a machine that measures brain-wave frequency and told that it could assess their sleep quality from the previous night. (It could do no such thing.) The group that was informed their sleep had been above average performed significantly better on a subsequent test than the group that was told their sleep was subpar.

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The takeaway? Clearly, we all need to stop whining--or bragging, or both--about how exhausted we are. Instead, let's start one-upping each other with tales of how wonderfully we slept, how sweetly we dreamed, how utterly refreshed we feel. Productivity levels may just skyrocket (as latte bills plummet). Even better, maybe our dark circles would fade.

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And why not consider all the other things we could deceive ourselves into believing we're excelling at. There's already some evidence that we can get in shape with placebo exercise: In one study, a group of hotel maids was told that the work they do is great exercise; another group of maids was told nothing. A month later, the maids who thought they were getting a solid workout--but hadn't changed their behavior at all--showed a decrease in weight, body fat, and blood pressure.

What about placebo hot sex? (Divorce rates would dive!) Or placebo great hair? (Self-esteem would soar!) Are there any specific placebo effects you could use in your daily life?

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