In 1965, 17-year-old high school student, Randy Gardner, stayed awake for 264 hours. That’s 11 days to be exact, to see how he cope without sleep.
On the second day, his eyes stopped focusing. Next, he lost the ability to identify objects by touch.
By day 3, Gardner was moody and Uncoordinated. And by the end of the experiment, he was struggling to concentrate, had trouble with short term memory, became paranoid and started hallucinating.
Although Gardner recovered without long-term psychological side effects. But for others, losing shuteye can result in hormonal imbalance, illness, and cases decline in sex drive. Oh, yes even death in some cases.
We are only beginning to understand, why we sleep. But what we know is it’s essential, Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night while an adolescent needs around 10.
So why do we sleep?
We grow sleepy due to signals from our surrounding and our body. The rise in sleep-inducing chemicals like Adenosine and Melatonin send us into a light slumber that grows deeper, reducing our breathing and heart rate slow down.
This non-REM sleep is when DNA is repaired.
I forgot in 2016 scientists found out the lack of sleep can also cause cancer.
In developed countries, it’s estimated that 30% of adults and 66% of teens are regularly sleep deprived.
And the lack of sleep or an irregular sleeping cycle is not a sign of you being extremely smart of something. Don’t believe everything you see on Facebook.
Staying awake can cause serious bodily harm. For example, when we lose sleep you get more than just dark circles. It affects your Memory, learning, Mood and reaction time. It also causes inflammation in your body and causes sudden weight gain and high blood pressure.
So, you want to stay in shape, then don’t forget to finish your daily quota.
In 2014, a devoted soccer fan died after staying awake for 48 hours to watch the world cup. No, he died of a stroke, studies have shown that chronically sleeping fewer than six hours a night increases stroke risks by 4.5 times.
Fatal Familial Insomnia
There are a select few people on this planet with a genetic mutation, sleeplessness is a daily reality.
No, it’s not a super power. It’s more of a bad deal of a scenario where their body is in a continuous state of nightmarish wakefulness. In simple words, they just can’t sleep.
Within months this progressively worsening condition leads to, yeah you know it Death and Dementia.
So how is a lack of sleep be such a big issue?
Well, the scientist thinks the answer lies in our bodies waste management system of our brain. During our waking hours, the brain works nonstop using up a lot of energy and producing a lot of byproducts including Adenosine.
As Adenosine build’s up, it makes up more and more sleepy process better known as sleep pressure. Other than Adenosine other waste products also builds up in our brain, which slowly overloads our brain and causes many negative symptoms of sleep deprivation.
So, when we sleep, the Glymphatic system, aka refresh button for your brain, it cleans up your brain or flushes out these unwanted byproducts from your brain by using cerebrospinal fluid, making you feel like a bike fresh out of servicing.
While scientists continue exploring the restorative mechanisms behind sleep, we can be sure that sleep is as necessary as breathing.
If you can’t sleep, then you can’t dream.
And what is life without dreams.
So next time, someone criticizes you for sleeping in your class, tell them to shut up and read this article.