Lack of sleep and alcohol – recipe for Melbourne Cup disaster

By Gambling Researcher Hannah Thorne

Thinking of betting on the Melbourne Cup? If you sleep too little, or drink a bit too much – maybe you should think again.

Australians are prolific punters, spending more money gambling per person than any other nation. However, Australian gamblers also experience a high amount of harm from gambling. Harm from gambling comes in many forms. It could be arguments with your partner about gambling and feelings of guilt, all the way up to not being able to pay bills, depression, anxiety and even suicide.

These gambling-related harms can stem from making bad gambling decisions, such as spending more time or money gambling than originally planned or gambling more to try and win back the money you lost.

We all know that drinking alcohol can cause us to make poor decisions and this is not good when you are gambling. A lesser known fact is that being sleepy can cause similar decision-making deficits as being a little drunk, making this also not great for your gambling.

Our CQUniversity gambling research unit did a study that looked at a group of people who gambled regularly and tracked their behaviours, including drinking and sleeping habits, over the course of a week. We found that there was a group of people in our sample that were different from the rest. These people were likely to gamble more than other people, drink more than other people, and get less sleep than other people.

These people that drink and gamble more, while also sleeping less, may have a common personality trait that causes them to do this. Whatever personality traits may be leading this group of people to drink more and sleep less, it is likely that these people are at a heightened risk of experiencing harm from gambling, since gambling whilst tired and intoxicated may lead to them making poor gambling decisions.

So, if you know that you are someone that may drink more and sleep less than the average person, have a think about your gambling and whether you are setting yourself up to fail. Perhaps betting on the Melbourne Cup is stacking the odds against you when trying to make healthy decisions about your gambling?

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