190. Why Humans Sleep, What Happens When They Do & The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

05 takeaways from this video:

00:00:01 In 1965, Randy Gardner set the currently disputed world record for the longest time going without sleep: 264.4 hours, or 11 days 24 minutes.

Some resuts:

  • DAY 2: Eyes stopped focusing and he could no longer feel and identify what he was touching
  • DAY 3: Experienced mood swings and loss of coordination
  • LATER: Visible cognitive and behavioral impairment with an inability to concentrate and short-term memory difficulties, became paranoid and suffered hallucinations.

Afterward the experiment, Randy’s sleeping patterns quickly returned to normal without experiencing psychological damage. However many sleep deprived people are not so lucky; experiencing hormonal imbalance, sickness and illness such as diabetes, and even death.

00:00:59 Research suggests that adults require 7-8 hours of sleep per night, with adolescents requiring 10 hours of sleep per night. Humans become sleepy through brain and/or environmental cues, and the brain releases chemicals like Adenosine and Melatonin which lulls them to sleep so that the brain and body can repair, recharge, and rid the brain of waste products such as adenosine via the glymphatic system.

In the US, as much as 30% of adults and 66% of children suffer from sleep deprivation.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in the panel discussion The Complicated Relationship Between Digital & Psychological Development that over the past century kids have been losing about 2 minutes of sleep per night per year in the United States. Further, their sleeping patterns are becoming more and more irregular.

Also, light exposure, notably blue-enriched artificial light via digital devices, confuses the brain, causing it to think it is earlier in the day than it really is, thus suppressing melatonin– the sleep enducing hormone – and delaying your child’s ability to fall asleep by as much as an hour and a half. Even worse, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared night shift work as a probable carcinogen due to not only the suppression of melatonin – which is not only your sleep enducing hormone but also an anti-cancer agent.]

Habitually sleeping less than 6 hours per night increases your risk of stroke by 4.5 times.

00:02:34 Fatal familial insomnia is an extremely rare inherited brain disorder which prevents you from sleeping. Typically:

  • Phase 1 lasts around 4 months, and so much insomnia leads to panic attacks, paranoia and phobias.
  • Phase 2 continues another 5 months, during which the hallucinations and panic attacks become more severe.
  • Phase 3 lasts about 3 months and the person suffers from extreme weight loss.
  • Phase 4 can last about 6 months, during which dementia sets in and the person becomes completely unresponsive. This phase usually ends in death.

TED Talks: sleeping and sleepdeprivation

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