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False confessions may be more likely with sleep deprivation

Illinois residents may be interested in a study that shows that people who have been sleep-deprived are more likely to confess to things that they did not do. The study, headed by an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University, found that individuals who had a full eight hours of sleep were far less likely to sign a document falsely stating that they had done something that they were explicitly asked not to do.

The study involved 88 participants who completed a variety of computer activities as well as a cognitive test in the professor's lab over a period of a week. Participants were told to not hit the escape button on the keyboard during testing because it would cause a loss of data.

On the final day of the experiment, half of the participants were allowed to sleep for eight hours while the other half stayed awake all night. All participants were told to sign papers that stated they had pressed the escape key on the keyboard. Of those who were allowed to sleep, only 18 percent signed this document, while those who had been up all night signed the document at a rate of 50 percent. Other studies have also shown that people who are sleep-deprived are far more likely to sign a false confession

People who have been charged with a crime have a right to mount a defense, and law enforcement authorities must comply with the law at every stage of the proceedings. Criminal defense attorneys will often advise their clients to not volunteer information or answer questions without the presence of counsel.

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