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The Consequences of Excessive Wakefulness

Article #36 • Written by Alan Bellows

Speaking personally, I consider sleep as a chore to be postponed for as long as possible. But sleepiness is a tenacious, unrelenting adversary, and drowsiness can have all the compassion of a 2x4 to the back of the head. I find it vaguely unsettling that every day, we humans experience the irresistible compulsion to pass out, and then remain unconscious for hours upon hours. We simply accept this involuntary stupor as natural when we really ought to be mortified.

All told, we humans spend about one third of our lives lying very still with our eyes closed. That means if you live to ninety years of age, you'll have slept through thirty years of your life. What a waste. But is it feasible to reclaim that part of your life by reducing or eliminating sleep, without unwanted side effects?

A Ukrainian man named Fyodor Nesterchuk claims that he has not slept since the mid 1980s, but the medical community expresses strenuous doubts on this claim, suggesting the alternate explanation that perhaps Mr. Nesterchuk is a big fat liar.

There are plenty of chemical ways to keep sleep at bay, at least for a time... but the sleep debt must always be repaid, or the body and mind will suffer. Modafinil, a drug used to treat narcolepsy (a disorder causing involuntary sleep during normal waking hours), has been tested on normal individuals, and shown to remove a person's urge to sleep. It can also increase vigilance, which allows one to stay awake and active for several days without sleep, but like caffeine and other drugs, it only postpones the inevitable. The US military has conducted studies to test the benefits of Modafinil for soldiers.

It turns out that if one actively prevents sleep for a prolonged period of time, which some people have tried, severe side effects pile on rapidly. All symptoms increase in severity as new ones appear:

The effects of full sleep deprivation in humans beyond eleven days have not been explored due to the health risks involved. Presumably, irreversible damage will soon follow, then death. This has been demonstrated in lab rats which died after being prevented from sleeping for two weeks. It is also evidenced by a very rare human brain disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia, where an adult individual slowly loses the ability to sleep, and the victims experience all of the above symptoms gradually over a few months. This disease eventually leads to dementia, permanent personality changes, motor paralysis, and ultimately death.

Bruce McAllister (left) helps Randy Gardner (center) stay awake with the help of Joe Marciano Jr. (right).
Bruce McAllister (left) helps Randy Gardner (center) stay awake with the help of Joe Marciano Jr. (right).

Apparently, lack of sleep causes all of these adverse effects because it causes brain damage. During a normal day, the brain is slightly damaged by the body's metabolism, and by free radicals. When one is asleep, the brain engages a repair center which slowly mends the tiny injuries, restoring the brain to its full potential. During the deepest phase of sleep, called REM, it is believed that the repair center itself is repaired. But the longer that sleep is prevented, the more damage one's brain accrues, and the more sleep one will require to repair it. Too much damage, and it becomes irreparable.

The longest recorded stint of deliberate sleeplessness was a science experiment by seventeen-year-old Randy Gardner in 1965. He managed to stay awake for 11 days (264 hours) without the use of stimulant drugs, though he did keep assistants on hand to prevent him from sleeping. By the end, he had experienced the full gamut of symptoms, including hallucinations and stupor, but he was able to suppress these symptoms while presiding over a press conference on the final day. Researchers then attached EEG monitors to his head as he went to sleep, which took less than four seconds. He awoke after sleeping for about 14 hours, and said that he felt fine.

Getting too little sleep in general can prevent the brain from being restored to 100% effectiveness, and can keep an individual at a perpetually reduced potential. As a consequence, the brain must work harder to accomplish the same amount of work, which is detrimental to efficiency. The brain also uses sleep as a time to sort, process, and catalog all of the information it has absorbed throughout the waking period, which is why memory is adversely effected by lack of sleep. Creativity also suffers because the brain builds creative associations from memories while slumbering. As if that weren't enough, the immune system will be weakened by insufficient sleep.

Interestingly, before the invention of the electric light bulb, the average person received nine of hours of sleep per night. The average night's sleep for a young American today is a bit over seven hours.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 28 October 2005. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design by Alan Bellows.
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61 Comments
Miss Sonia
Posted 29 October 2005 at 10:13 am

Oh boy does sleep deprivation ever suck. I have sleep apnea, and have only recently gotten a CPAP machine, after having had SA since I was a pre-teen. (Only put the symptoms together and had it diagnosed this year.) And the sleep deprivation and disturbance you get from all the micro-arousals all night long? Really adds up. As does the badness of not getting any stage 3 or 4 sleep. Permanent brain fog, constant exhaustion even after spending 12 hours "asleep", depression-anxiety-etc, high blood pressure, potential for congestive heart disease, and so on, it's rather horrid. My CPAP machine is my best friend.


Sam Hanks
Posted 31 October 2005 at 01:28 am

I have read, I don't remember where, that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture for prisoners/captives/insurgents. It may have been advocated by the (infamous) U.S. School of the Americas and was taught to oppressive regimes in Central America, etc. It is often preferred because there are obviously no overt signs of torture. One prisoner from whom intelligence was sought was kept awake for 30 days. When his captives gave up on him and he was released, he existed for only a day or two before committing suicide--according to the artical. (It was on the web.)


binnyva
Posted 24 February 2006 at 01:48 am

"The effects of full sleep deprivation in humans beyond eleven days have not been explored due to the health risks involved. Presumably, irreversible damage will soon follow, then death."

Intresting....

http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/viewnews.php?id=61734


HearWa
Posted 04 June 2006 at 11:46 am

Sleeping for 30% of your life is exactly why I'm so fascinated by lucid dreaming. It's a shame more people aren't interested in this skill.

I don't look forward to the day science "solves" sleep. Why? All the corporate world is going to do is increase our work hours and reduce the hourly wages paid. Think about it.


Tynan
Posted 04 June 2006 at 01:02 pm

The "corporate world" doesn't have any control over you that you don't give freely. Youre welcome to work for yourself, or in a small business, or for the government. If you have so few useful skills that you are unable to demand decent compensation for your work, that is your own fault.


PRiME
Posted 04 June 2006 at 02:05 pm

Freedom is a illusion of the mind. We are all prisoners of our own design, wages control what you do and yes a decrease in wages means a increase in work hours. And when I mean a decrease that could mean as tax and the cost of living increases wages have shown to not entirely follow suit in ratio.

Either way I feel like I should be learning or studying in my sleep and have been looking at those lucid sleeping things for a bit but so far havn't got around to giving it a full test run (probably because it involves me spending money on a disc or some crap). Any advise HearWa?


HunterKiller_
Posted 04 June 2006 at 03:50 pm

Sleep sucks.


Furnace
Posted 04 June 2006 at 04:28 pm

Lucid dreaming only takes a little time and effort. For about three years straight, I wrote a detailed description of my dreams, and after seeing patterns emerge in my writings, I started having concious thoughts when I noticed them in my dreams. "Hey! I've had five different dreams where someone cuts their foot on broken glass and here it is again!" ...and the lucid dreaming starts.

My goal for the longest time was to find a book in a dream, then read and remember as much as possible so I could find out what my mind would create. Time and time again, it was always gibberish. This is the longest line of text I've been able to get from a dream- "Standard strock not oekey todoso."


Hayley
Posted 04 June 2006 at 06:18 pm

There's a form of sleeping where people sleep approximately 3-4 hours of sleep each night, by taking evenly spaced half hour naps.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/4/15/103358/720

That link was taken from an earlier page on the Piraha people, by a poster named Phill, on the Uberman sleep cycle. I guess since damage accumulates what seems to be exponentially, a short waking period would need a shorter repair time. It doesn't seem to have any lasting negative effects.


another viewpoint
Posted 04 June 2006 at 06:46 pm

...SLEEPING?...who said I was sleeping? I was merely looking for pinholes in my eyelids!

You know how you get to live to be a ripe old age? You keep waking up in the morning.
You know how you keep waking up in the morning? Drink plenty of water before going to bed!


SparkyTWP
Posted 04 June 2006 at 08:09 pm

11 days without sleep? Try months. There's a genetic disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia. Basically a mutation progressively causes you to get less and less sleep until you are unable to fall alseep at all (Sleeping pills and medication are useless). You degenerate over the course of several months and then die. The wikipedia article has a link to an msnbc story about it and it shows video of a man with it deteriorating over the course of those months.


HearWa
Posted 05 June 2006 at 03:56 am

Tynan said: "The "corporate world" doesn't have any control over you that you don't give freely. Youre welcome to work for yourself, or in a small business, or for the government. If you have so few useful skills that you are unable to demand decent compensation for your work, that is your own fault."

You're blowing what I said way out of proportion. I never said anything about the corporate world having any sort of control over my life. However, it's a fact that many people are working sixty and some even eighty hour weeks. I myself only work ~40 hours a week and apparently you're fortunate enough to get great wages. But just because of this neither of us have the right to tell the world that it's their own fault that they must work those hours. I'd like to see you explain to a single mother doing factory work that it's her own damn fault for being in debt.

And besides, I was looking at the bigger picture. If we don't have to sleep time would be regarded as even less precious. Most factories have a difficult time keeping people so I'm sure they'd try to change from three shifts to two, thus cutting out 1/3 of their potential employees. I've seen this myself and I've also seen how miserable many people are working these hours.

And in response to your veiled insult to my skillset I'm working to pay for my education and I feel very fortunate in doing so: not everyone gets that chance.


1c3d0g
Posted 05 June 2006 at 06:26 am

Tynan: that's a pretty retarded comment. Are you sure dementia or other mental illnesses doesn't run in your family?


SparkyTWP
Posted 05 June 2006 at 07:06 am

HearWa said: "I'd like to see you explain to a single mother doing factory work that it's her own damn fault for being in debt."

Then whose fault is it if not her own?


HearWa
Posted 05 June 2006 at 09:21 am

SparkyTWP said: "Then whose fault is it if not her own?"

I don't know, what if she was raped and she didn't believe in abortions? Or perhaps she previously had a husband and he left her?

Truth be told there's a whole plethora of hypothetical situations anyone can bullshit their way through but the fact of the matter is you can't point to everyone with a bad job and tell them "it's your own damn fault."


Shandooga
Posted 05 June 2006 at 09:39 am

Seems to me that if *certain* people had 30% more time to act on their evil intent, the world would be 30% worse-off. That 30% would almost certainly be enough to wipe every living thing off the face of the earth. Hurrah for sleep!


Reporter
Posted 05 June 2006 at 11:36 am

Sleep is the natural state of all animal life, and maybe all plant life, too. Being awake is, for animals, a temporary state that has been used to gather nutrients and to procreate. That's all that being awake is good for, and it's necessary, of course. When we are awake our metabolism shifts from one that build and repair cells (anabolism) to one that destroys them (catabolism). We are allowed a few hours each day to enter a temporary state of heightened awareness and mobility to get food and to procreate. If we succeed in this then we will survive and reproduce. If we don't then we die without reproducing. This is the way it is for every animal, from single cell to human. There are no exceptions. Except for getting nutrition and reproducing, being awake kills you, as it does every animal. Sleep heals you and allows you to grow. For humans, all the other stuff we do when we're awake is a kind of a bonus, if we can do more than just get food and reproduce while we're awake, that's fine for us, but it's the ability to find nutrition and to reproduce in the few hours daily that we are awake that makes it all work.


dJCL
Posted 05 June 2006 at 01:21 pm

On lucid dreaming - there is a wikibook on it in the wikimedia site - I've read it, but not tried it hard.
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Lucid_Dreaming

On working more hours - not going to happen - there have been many studies of the optimal work week done, and 8 hours a day for 5 days a week always keeps productivity at maximum for the long term. Lower and people just don't get as much done, higher and they start making mistakes and having to spend time fixing them. Basically, if we "cure" sleep, people will tend to have more leisure time on their hands... which might not be a good thing.


Shandooga
Posted 05 June 2006 at 02:06 pm

Reporter said: "... being awake kills you, as it does every animal. Sleep heals you and allows you to grow..."

If being awake is a death-inducing opponent to the natural state of sleep, why exist at all? Godless religion (evolution) is really driving you people insane.


Reporter
Posted 05 June 2006 at 02:07 pm

You can't 'cure' sleep. Sleep is, for every animal, when the anabolic (i.e., growing, healing) processes predominate. When you are not sleeping, when the catabolic processes predominate, the ones that allow you to move, to find food, your cells are breaking down. You can tolerate the effects of catabolism for a few hours daily but that is all. If you try to resist metabolic reality by denying sleep, well, your body and mind will self destruct. Sleep without regret - if you do, your waking hours will be immensely more fruitful and enjoyable.


Uki Magic
Posted 05 June 2006 at 03:33 pm

Shandooga said: "If being awake is a death-inducing opponent to the natural state of sleep, why exist at all? Godless religion (evolution) is really driving you people insane."

I agree. When people metion that we are just organisms, no different then bacteria, it makes me think of a University of Texas professor who recently advocated using the Ebola virus to wipe out 90% of the world's population (http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p) because mankind is bad for the planet and other organisms.


Phill
Posted 05 June 2006 at 04:08 pm

Uki Magic said: "I agree. When people metion that we are just organisms, no different then bacteria, it makes me think of a University of Texas professor who recently advocated using the Ebola virus to wipe out 90% of the world's population (http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p) because mankind is bad for the planet and other organisms."

He was probably right; sadly.


Vivendi
Posted 05 June 2006 at 04:47 pm

Shandooga said: "If being awake is a death-inducing opponent to the natural state of sleep, why exist at all? Godless religion (evolution) is really driving you people insane."

I think you're misunderstanding Reporter. Being awake does damage your body, and sleeping heals it. But that doesn't mean you should sleep all your life (basically a coma).

Shandooga said: "Godless religion (evolution) is really driving you people insane."

Yes we're all insane. Thank you for stating the obvious.

Ofcourse we can't really say what could happen in the future, changes to our DNA and/or medicine could allow time needed to sleep to 2-3 hours or even to 0. But who really wants that? I love dreaming.

The most time I've gone without sleeping is just overt 2 days. And no, I didn't do well on that test I had...


HearWa
Posted 05 June 2006 at 06:15 pm

Reporter said: "You can't 'cure' sleep.

Your arrogance is impressive next to all the evidence that mans overlying assumptions have been proven wrong time and time again.


HearWa
Posted 05 June 2006 at 06:21 pm

dJCL said: On working more hours - not going to happen - there have been many studies of the optimal work week done, and 8 hours a day for 5 days a week always keeps productivity at maximum for the long term. Lower and people just don't get as much done, higher and they start making mistakes and having to spend time fixing them. Basically, if we "cure" sleep, people will tend to have more leisure time on their hands… which might not be a good thing."

Heh, I know many areas around where I live that ignore this. The general feeling you get in these areas is if you can't work twelve hours, what good are you?

Oh, and did these studies involve desk work -and- physical labor? What are your sources?


gorgeousplanet
Posted 06 June 2006 at 01:17 am

I Hate How Every Topic On This Site Gets Turned Into Some KIND Of Religious Debate. I mean COME ON. You People Are Not Going To Convince Anyone On Here To Change What They Believe To What You Believe, So Why Waste Everyone's Time?! Have Something Relevant To Say About the Topic, Or Go Start Your OWN Blog. Away From HERE. Ha, seems, like only 30% of the responses to this topic actually had something to say about sleep.


Starcia02
Posted 06 June 2006 at 08:20 am

gorgeousplanet said: "I Hate How Every Topic On This Site Gets Turned Into Some KIND Of Religious Debate. I mean COME ON. You People Are Not Going To Convince Anyone On Here To Change What They Believe To What You Believe, So Why Waste Everyone's Time?! Have Something Relevant To Say About the Topic, Or Go Start Your OWN Blog. Away From HERE. Ha, seems, like only 30% of the responses to this topic actually had something to say about sleep."

Thank you!


AKALucifer
Posted 06 June 2006 at 12:41 pm

Tynan said: "The "corporate world" doesn't have any control over you that you don't give freely. Youre welcome to work for yourself, or in a small business, or for the government. If you have so few useful skills that you are unable to demand decent compensation for your work, that is your own fault."

This is an interesting statement that seems true at first but think about it. Where do you learn most of your skills? At school, college, university etc. big business has got a hand in all of these institutions and so can dictate what skills we have meaning it may not be our choice what skills we end up with. Take me for example I don't think I've been taught anything for about four years now. Oh sure I've been taught how an ox-bow lake is formed but I haven't learnt anything that I couldn't learn from wikipedia it isn't my fault that I havn't it's just that I've been forced to follow the cirriculum as apposed to learning any kind of 'skill' that would actually be of use.

The point of this is that business is creating (with the aid of the government) a generation of people who can make quick yes or no decisions and can be paid very little for what they do.


apology
Posted 06 June 2006 at 02:35 pm

Reporter said: "This is the way it is for every animal, from single cell to human. There are no exceptions. Except for getting nutrition and reproducing, being awake kills you, as it does every animal."

You've obviously entered a conversation without having the faintest clue about what you are talking about. One major fact you overlooked is that you require a BRAIN in order to sleep or in more scientifical terms, a central nervous system. This definately excludes plants (DOH!) from the game, and a fair part of the living world (especially your standard single-cell organisms).

Now, for a little science. "Neurons in the brainstem, which connects the brain with the spinal cord, produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine that keep some parts of the brain active while we are awake. Other neurons at the base of the brain begin signaling when we fall asleep. These neurons appear to "switch off" the signals that keep us awake. Research also suggests that a chemical called adenosine builds up in our blood while we are awake and causes drowsiness. This chemical gradually breaks down while we sleep."

Also another interesting article on the chemistry and process of sleep is
Link

Going back to the effect and social impact chapter, we can look very well at how animals sleep and find a lot of similarities and differences. For instance, a giraffe sleeps, on average for only 1.9 hours a day. Why? One could argue that the giraffe has a smaller brain and thus needs less sleep to fully recover. But one would be wrong. A lab rat sleeps on average for 13 hours a day, and quite obviously it's brain is not larger than a giraffe's is it? Another interesting fact is that dolphins and purpoises can sleep with only half their brain, while keeping the other half active for survival (such as breathing), and they can also swim while sleeping.
And one more for you to chew on? Why sleep during the night?

So how about leaving the religion battles aside and trying to approach these matters I've proposed.

material also taken from: http://www.sleephomepages.org/sleepsyllabus/fr-b.html very interesting page


Reporter
Posted 08 June 2006 at 03:23 pm

apology;

Sleep is far from being a uniquely human phenomenon, nor is it one that is neurologically based except to the extent that the chemicals that bring us regularly and temporarily to the heightened state of awareness (that has proven necessary to allow us the opportunities to obtain nutrition and to procreate) are directed to the brain to awaken us. Our sleep, a time when our metabolism is anabolic, and our being awake, a time when our metabolism is catabolic, are merely metabolic phases, i.e., they are rooted in every cell in every animal organism. A brain isn't required - the engine is the metabolism within the cell.

You've seen individual cells when they are not ingesting and not dividing - they are sleeping. You've also seen individual cells when they are ingesting and they are dividing - they are awake. A cell can't spend all of its time, and the energy it takes, ingesting a nutrient body nor can it spend all of its time and energy in the process of mitosis, cell division. When it's not doing these things it is repairing itself and growing. This is carried over, of course, into multi-celled organisms and, eventually, after hundreds of millions of years, into the animals that we are and the animals which surround us. This is metabolic, cell-level. Anything going on in the brain is cell-based, including the balancing states of metabolism, anabolic & catabolic, and the behavioral manifestations of this, being asleep and being awake.

I haven't said anything about religion, of course, and your comments about that are therefore misdirected, as is the condescension in the rest of your comment. Ignoring the discussion of metabolism in attempts to comprehend what sleep is has made it impossible for sleep to be understood for long enough. You don't get any points for your ad hominem attack, either. If you have any evidence to support your theory that sleep/awake has nothing to do with the anabolic/catabolic balance played out endlessly in every animal organism then be sure to explain that to us all. Meanwhile the obvious and long-established fact that certain specific chemicals are not only at the heart of the sleep/awake cycle but that that they are also produced within cells during their regular, recurring off/on metabolic cycle is not going to go away unless you can explain that all of the science is somehow wrong.


Kafka
Posted 08 June 2006 at 11:01 pm

I heard about that guy, Nesterchuk, on Sky News. The Reporters were making a big fuss about this guy, as if his claims were true. As if he could stay awake for decades. If his claims were true, why isn't every biologist in the world trying to examine this guy? Of course, he is a Big Fat Liar, just like all these people who claim to have "amazing body properties". You know those people who claim they are magnetic? Ask them to take a shower before their magnetism stunt. They won't.

About treating Familial Insomnia, what about a medically induced coma? I know it doesn't mimic REM sleep, but wouldn't it help a bit, or at least slow down the damage?


SparkyTWP
Posted 09 June 2006 at 05:46 am

I don't know if they tried it, but the disease seems to disable the part of your thalmus that let's you go unconsciousness and makes any medications that try to activate that part completely useless. However, I wonder what would happen if you hit him in the head really hard. Would they just stay awake? This might actually be a valid experiment since from what I've read, scientists don't have a clear idea why hitting someone in the head causes them to lose consciousness, and could help them eliminate some ideas. Either way I have to say (This coming from someone who enjoys their sleep): What a crappy way to go.


Reporter
Posted 09 June 2006 at 10:32 am

I didn't take time to mention the universal observation that mammalian fetuses (including humans, of course), having neither the need to procreate nor to rise to a heightened state to move about in search of nutrients, are asleep virtually all the time. During this period these organisms are in a near total state of anabolic activity, and nearly never in a state of catabolic activity, i.e., they sleep virtually all the time and are virtually never awake. When a human fetus is burn it undergoes the dramatic change of beginning to breathe, etc., and from that time on it learns to be awake more each day and, in a few years, to obtain its own nourishment and, eventually, to procreate. It is as important for younger people to get the sleep they need as it is for them to learn all of the things they need to learn to become healthy, mature, responsible adults. When parents don't understand this, or when younger people themselves don't understand this, they really suffer.

Sleep deprivation (too much catabolism, not enough anabolism) is bad for anyone - it's especially bad for younger people because, as organisms, they can fail because of it. Mankind is almost certainly the only animal that, on the one hand, even thinks about sleep and tries to understand it and, on the other hand, attempts to use many of the misunderstandings of sleep and its importance to actually interfere with it or avoid it and thereby do harm to itself.


yukon
Posted 12 June 2006 at 12:54 am

1c3d0g said: "Tynan: that's a pretty retarded comment. Are you sure dementia or other mental illnesses doesn't run in your family?"

1c3dog: you're the one who sounds retarded, not Tynan. Instead of coming up with a logical refutation of what he said, you are basically questioning his intelligence. Either come up with a good argument or sh*t up.


cin
Posted 14 June 2006 at 08:33 am

I had a competition with friends at a LAN party to stay awake for as long as possible. We managed three days, two of us, at which point we were very, very bored. We decided to sleep because there was nothing to do. It was a shame. Similarly, when I'm too unmotiviated/melancholy to do anything, I go to sleep. I would've liked to see the point where I literally stop in mid-conversation and sleep. I think a good part of sleep is psychological, in that we expect it, or have nothing better to do, and obviously the physical need to sleep to heal muscle tissue and the rest.

I find, if I'm working on a project, like programming, I stay awake for as long as I have something to do. After that I sleep for about 12 hours. Sometimes there's just too much stored in the short-term memory, although excellent for programming, bad for most other things. Gotta reboot the head, hehe.

I like to read anything about sleep. Especially, as someone mentioned above, Lucid Dreaming. Something you have to practice, but interesting nontheless!


blueracoon
Posted 15 June 2006 at 09:53 am

HunterKiller_ said: "Sleep sucks."

you are right we could be watching something else than our wierd twisted dreams and fantasies that dwell inside of our low-capacity brains (which we only use about 5 to 7 percent of) oh and sorry about my very few comments i just heard of the website which is pretty cool :)


joxterthemighty
Posted 16 June 2006 at 11:36 pm

Please do not perpetuate the myth that we use less than 10% of the brain, there is no evidence to support such claims.

Taken from http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/tenper.html

*QUOTE*
The question is: Do we use only 10% of our brains?

Let me state this very clearly:

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that we use only 10% of our brains.

In other words, the statement, "We use only 10% of our brains" is false; it's a myth. We use all of our brain. Let's look at the possible origins of this myth and the evidence that we use all of our brain.

Where Did the 10% Myth Begin?
The 10% statement may have been started with a misquote of Albert Einstein or the misinterpretation of the work of Pierre Flourens in the 1800s. It may have been William James who wrote in 1908: "We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources" (from The Energies of Men, p. 12). Perhaps it was the work of Karl Lashley in the 1920s and 1930s that started it. Lashley removed large areas of the cerebral cortex in rats and found that these animals could still relearn specific tasks. We now know that destruction of even small areas of the human brain can have devastating effects on behavior. That is one reason why neurosurgeons must carefully map the brain before removing brain tissue during operations for epilepsy or brain tumors: they want to make sure that essential areas of the brain are not damaged.
*/QUOTE*

Go to the website for the rest of the article.
http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/tenper.html


Nytmare
Posted 21 June 2006 at 11:17 pm

HearWa said: "Your arrogance is impressive next to all the evidence that mans overlying assumptions have been proven wrong time and time again."

Every man's assumptions are wrong -- except yours?


Emmy
Posted 28 June 2006 at 07:31 pm

This disease eventually leads to dementia, permanent personality changes, motor paralysis, and ultimately death.

........ Doesn't everything lead "ultimately" to death? I can see what they mean, but come on, use better words! Why don't we rid of that phrase forever?


dreamin
Posted 04 July 2006 at 01:32 am

I know from my own experience that "sleep on it" is a very effective learning tool. Especially when learning an intricate physical set of tasks. During sleep the brain actually wires up the pathways we've been trying to make in our conscious efforts. Teachers and coaches should definitely be taught to take this into account. Also, decisions are best made after "sleeping on it". I think our judgment centers also benefit from sleep.


me09
Posted 08 July 2006 at 03:01 pm

gorgeousplanet said: "I Hate How Every Topic On This Site Gets Turned Into Some KIND Of Religious Debate. I mean COME ON. You People Are Not Going To Convince Anyone On Here To Change What They Believe To What You Believe, So Why Waste Everyone's Time?! Have Something Relevant To Say About the Topic, Or Go Start Your OWN Blog. Away From HERE. Ha, seems, like only 30% of the responses to this topic actually had something to say about sleep."

OK, BUT LAY LOW ON THE CAPS!!!! I had a headache getting to the middle of the comment!


needles
Posted 19 July 2006 at 01:20 pm

Olny sarmt popele can raed tihs. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. If you can raed tihs, psas it on.


BCingU
Posted 22 July 2006 at 08:40 pm

Hey, I can read the above almost as easily as regular writing. I would have atributted it to the belief that I am a bit dislexic and often see letters in the wrong order.

I recall reading about a radio personality who stayed awake and on the radio for an extended period of time as a stunt. I do not remember how long. Going in he was a happy, stable person. After the stunt he gradually fell apart. He lost job, family, had bouts of erratic thinking, personality change, depression and ultimately was a suicide. Those who knew him thought it was a result of the sleep stunt. This might have been in the 1950s?


CosmicFS
Posted 29 July 2006 at 12:19 pm

All this great techno-babble on the effects of loss of sleep-- one area that wasn't 'touched' upon was:
Reduction in random night 'boners'.

How would that be scientifically described?


Didoka
Posted 11 August 2006 at 08:37 pm

G

Emmy said: "This disease eventually leads to dementia, permanent personality changes, motor paralysis, and ultimately death.


…….. Doesn't everything lead "ultimately" to death? I can see what they mean, but come on, use better words! Why don't we rid of that phrase forever?"

Dude are you retarded. No shit everything leads to death. They're talking about an unnatural death here.

Reporter said: "I didn't take time to mention the universal observation that mammalian fetuses (including humans, of course), having neither the need to procreate nor to rise to a heightened state to move about in search of nutrients, are asleep virtually all the time.

Yeah they're constantly in an anabolic state because a catabolic state breaks down the cells and at this point, the cells have to be built up and created.

Apology:Why sleep during the night?

We sleep during the night because during the day, the light issensedby your eyes nad keeps you buys. Plus the day is alot more useful considering you can see so much more. That why people have decided to sleep at night.

Lastly a question that nobody has raised. If sleeping repairs your brain, how come when you sleep over 10 hours, you wake up and you feel tired as if you had slept less than 8 hours? Somebody answer.


Didoka
Posted 11 August 2006 at 08:39 pm

Yeah they're constantly in an anabolic state because a catabolic state breaks down the cells and at this point, the cells have to be built up and created.

We sleep during the night because during the day, the light issensedby your eyes nad keeps you buys. Plus the day is alot more useful considering you can see so much more. That why people have decided to sleep at night.

Lastly a question that nobody has raised. If sleeping repairs your brain, how come when you sleep over 10 hours, you wake up and you feel tired as if you had slept less than 8 hours? Somebody answer.

Those are my statements!


yonit
Posted 04 October 2006 at 02:32 am

There is a great sci fi novel that explores the idea of not needing sleep and all that one could accomplish with that freedom. It also addresses the social tension between those that sleep and the sleepless. Many wish they had more productive hours in the day, could they actually compete against someone who did?

The book is Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beggars_in_Spain


Tink
Posted 09 October 2006 at 03:29 am

Having always been a nocturnal creature from infancy and spending much of my early life in a perpetual state of exhaustion trying to conform to "normal" wakeing/sleeping hours; I happened upon the perfect solution by watching a movie.

I can not remember the name of the movie, but it was based on a scientist enjecting himself with a serum that geneticaly changed him to a pre-historic person. He ended up in a laboratory like observation situation.
So as he would work, eat or play it was noted that he never prepared a bed for himself, but simply passed out when the need for sleep came upon him.

That was the answer to my personal sleep pattern problem. I then stopped trying to schedual a bed time and simply began working untill my body said it is time to sleep (nodding off). Now when I go to bed I sleep soundly and awaken completly refreshed. Sometimes my "days" last 14 hours, and some times as much as 23 hours.

Like Cin says: "I find, if I'm working on a project, like programming, I stay awake for as long as I have something to do."

This however does not apply to recreational stuff like reading Damned Interesting, LOL. I've found my body fighting my curiosity here too many times to count now! God, I love this site! Thank you again Alan Bellows!

Oh and a reminder to my fellow readers/commenters, if you realy love DI like I do, go ahead and pitch in a few bucks to help Alan with the hosting fees, note the extremly wonderful lack of ads/popups etc. here? Lets help keep it that way! :)


Figs
Posted 29 November 2006 at 04:27 am

I think I'd be happier if I didn't have to get up a set time :P

I really hate my alarm clock.


babyboy
Posted 14 March 2007 at 04:22 pm

I hav'nt slept in 8 days solid without a single dream,I forget what thats like,if someone has some advice on how I should make myself sleep without alcohol or other illicit substances please help me out here


Tink
Posted 14 March 2007 at 09:15 pm

babyboy, If your not asleep yet then this one suggests that you follow these steps:

1. Get some Melatonin, a natural sleep aid found in most drug stores or even some of the dollar stores. You can usualy find it in the herb and vitamin asile.

2. Stop drinking any alcohol, sodas, teas, or coffees, and take the melatonin with warm milk.(No chocolate!)

3. If you are hungry, eat a Turkey sandwich made with mayonaise and lots of black pepper. Drink another glass of warm milk.

If you follow these three steps you will be sleeping like a "babyboy" within an hour or so.

Good luck, and sweet dreams! :)


Jeffrey93
Posted 21 March 2007 at 11:13 pm

Wait...if the less I sleep the dumber I'll get....does that mean the more I sleep the smarter I will become? Or will I simply be at my "full potential"?

I love sleep. If I could change from sleeping 1/3 of the time to 1/2 of the time..I'd gladly do it. There are very few things I cherish more than a solid night's sleep.


Dr. Evil
Posted 05 April 2007 at 10:57 pm

Uki Magic said: "I agree. When people metion that we are just organisms, no different then bacteria, it makes me think of a University of Texas professor who recently advocated using the Ebola virus to wipe out 90% of the world's population (http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p) because mankind is bad for the planet and other organisms."

if he is brave enough to face ebola and start off the elimination of mankind, i volunteer to be one of the remaining 10% to help "repopulate" the earth.


skrahyb
Posted 22 October 2007 at 08:30 pm

I too feel that sleep is the most horrible thing. And the way it is put here is simply perfect. Sleep is inevitable. You will sleep, your body requires it. I used to see sleep as a gateway to dreams, the slumbering stories that bring out my true creativity. "Used" being the key-word, this doesn't happen so often anymore thanks to advanced classes and extra curricular activities. I think it's just hilarious how I'm supposed to be bettering my future, when in reality I'm just harming it. After reading this article, I found another that said if you sleep thirty minutes extra a night for a while, you can catch up on all the lost sleep of the many years.

I think I too will go to sleep a little bit early tonight.


Mirage_GSM
Posted 11 July 2008 at 04:45 am

I wonder if anyone actually ever tried this:
http://xkcd.com/320/


canaman184
Posted 01 September 2008 at 04:05 pm

needles said: "Olny sarmt popele can raed tihs. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. If you can raed tihs, psas it on."

i think more then just "smart" people can read it... I'm pretty sure any human with average reading skills would be able to comprehend it.


LuckyLilLeprechaun
Posted 23 September 2008 at 08:33 pm

Needles- I appreciate your post- very awesome.

How's this for lucid dreaming: I wasn't even trying to "lucidly" dream, it just sort of happened. I used to have this same dream over and over, anytime I was feeling stressed out- I would be looking in vain for my car in a parking lot. The car would be true to life, that is, I would be looking for whatever car it was that I currently owned, and I would be looking for it in a parking lot that made sense for my current life's circumstances, i.e, the college campus lot, or my job's parking lot, or whatever was applicable. This went on for many years (at least 5 years) The point of this is, after awhile of having this same dream, the futile search for my car, I would start to recognize, OMG, I'm having my "can't find my car" dream. I was able to figure out while in the midst of dreaming that I was having the recurring dream, and at that point I would wake up. Since then, I rarely have this dream anymore- it's as if the realization that it was a dream took away it's power. Weird, huh?


jordan
Posted 21 February 2014 at 08:14 pm

Sleep is a state of mind.


safeguard
Posted 29 April 2014 at 07:32 am

when i was just 10 or 12, i used to have this nightmare where a raging bull will chase me down narrow lanes, i used to run and run and scream and wake up sweaty and startled. Then when i grew up a little bit and during one of the repeat dreams, gathered enough courage to turn around and hold the bull by its horns, it started playing with me. After that i never had that dream. can somebody explain???


Joseph
Posted 29 June 2014 at 08:01 am

I love lucid dreaming and have even found that that the longer i stay up the easier it is to do so. In my memory my vision is usally foggy or inpaired during these dreams but if you rrally pay attention its clearer than here


Jack
Posted 09 December 2014 at 03:31 pm

Furnace said: "Lucid dreaming only takes a little time and effort. For about three years straight, I wrote a detailed description of my dreams, and after seeing patterns emerge in my writings, I started having concious thoughts when I noticed them in my dreams. "Hey! I've had five different dreams where someone cuts their foot on broken glass and here it is again!" ...and the lucid dreaming starts.

My goal for the longest time was to find a book in a dream, then read and remember as much as possible so I could find out what my mind would create. Time and time again, it was always gibberish. This is the longest line of text I've been able to get from a dream- "Standard strock not oekey todoso.""

That's actually quite interesting. I'm also very intrigued by the skill of lucid dreaming (though I'm only just a beginner). My dream diary is about 2 weeks long, but it has quite a few gaps in it since I usually can't remember my dreams when I awake.

Anyway, when you're reading those gibberish lines of text, do they actually make sense to your dream self, or do you read it and toss it due to it being gibberish?


END OF COMMENTS
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