Feeling impulsive, unmotivated or lazy? Drink some glucose (research inside)


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This comes from [Thinking, Fast and Slow](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow) by Daniel Kahneman an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences

The essential idea is that effort and free will and self control are mentally tiring and after engaging in this behavior your mind becomes exhausted and is more inclined to be unmotivated lazy or impulsive.

Here is the introduction of the idea of *ego depletion*:

> Baumeister’s group has repeatedly found that an effort of will or selfcontrol
is tiring; if you have had to force yourself to do something, you are
less willing or less able to exert self-control when the next challenge comes
around. The phenomenon has been named ego depletion. In a typical
demo thypical denstration, participants who are instructed to stifle their
emotional reaction to an emotionally charged film will later perform poorly
on a test of physical stamina—how long they can maintain a strong grip on
a dynamometer in spite of increasing discomfort. The emotional effort in
the first phase of the experiment reduces the ability to withstand the pain of
sustained muscle contraction, and ego-depleted people therefore
succumb more quickly to the urge to quit.

And here is the research where they fight the effects with glucose:

> The most surprising discovery made by Baumeister’s group shows, as
he puts it, that the idea of mental energy is more than a mere metaphor.
The nervous system consumes more glucose than most other parts of the
body, and effortful mental activity appears to be especially expensive in the
currency of glucose. When you are actively involved in difficult cognitive
reasoning or engaged in a task that requires self-control, your blood
glucose level drops. The effect is analogous to a runner who draws down
glucose stored in her muscles during a sprint. The bold implication of this
idea is that the effects of ego depletion could be undone by ingesting
glucose, and Baumeister and his colleagues have confirmed this
hypothesis in several experiments. Volunteers in one of their studies watched a short silent film of a woman
being interviewed and were asked to interpret her body language. While
they were performing the task, a series of words crossed the screen in
slow succession. The participants were specifically instructed to ignore the words, and if they found their attention drawn away they had to refocus their
concentration on the woman’s behavior. This act of self-control was known
to cause ego depletion. All the volunteers drank some lemonade before
participating in a second task. The lemonade was sweetened with glucose
for half of them and with Splenda for the others. Then all participants were
given a task in which they needed to overcome an intuitive response to get
the correct answer. Intuitive errors are normally much more frequent among
ego-depleted people, and the drinkers of Splenda showed the expected
depletion effect. On the other hand, the glucose drinkers were not
depleted. Restoring the level of available sugar in the brain had prevented
the deterioration of performance. It will take some time and much further
research to establish whether the tasks that cause glucose-depletion also
cause the momentary arousal that is reflected in increases of pupil size
and heart rate



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