Cousin of Death

In Death’s family, sleep must be a black sheep because it is so revitalizing.

An excuse for not sleeping enough is simply because you have way too much work to do.  However, if your task is that of an intellectual one, sleeping could actually increase your ability to work.  When one is sleep deprived, their ability to recall and form new memories suffer.  “Sleepless in America” quoted a 40% decrease in performance in memory-related activities when people are sleep deprived (though I don’t recall them talking about their specific testing methods so I don’t know if there were issues with their experimentation).

Personally though, I have found that my memory suffers greatly when I am sleep deprived.  I participated in a hackathon a few years ago where teams competed against each other to try to write the best app within 24 hours.  The winner gets some bullshit prize (can you tell I didn’t win?).  Being completely new to writing apps, I tried to pick it up on the spot.  Facts I learned in the first few hours were completely forgotten by the latter hours of the contest.  Facts I learned in the latter hours of the contest were forgotten almost instantly.  I remember looking up the same thing over and over again because I had completely forgotten what I had just learned 5 minutes ago.  As such, I was not very productive.  I hit a mental wall where my head was bobbing, but then eventually got past it by forcing myself to stay awake (it was like 5am probably).  Once I got my “second wind,” the only thing I was good at at that point was being awake.  I know for a fact that I would have been a lot more productive if I had just slept for 8 of the 24 hours, because any productivity is more than zero.

Another thing I found with acute sleep deprivation is my ability to focus.  I would be reading a simple paragraph explaining how to do a certain task, but would be completely confused.  I could not focus, period.  This leads me to my next point, which is that sleep is vital for driving.  This should be obvious but “I’m not going to sleep because I need to get my work done” seems to override the need for sleep so that you don’t accidentally kill someone driving.  Piloting 3 ton death machines, we have a responsibility as drivers to be as focused as humanly possible on the road so that we can react to adversarial situations quickly.  I have driven drowsy a few times due to some plebeian roommates.  It is not pleasant.  You can try to keep yourself awake, but if you have ever been to a boring morning lecture you will soon realize that fight is a lost cause.  I experienced micro-sleep where basically, at random, there would be a few seconds of blackout while I was driving.  Fortunately, this happened at a red lights.  Having experienced this, I started putting earplugs on when I slept so I would not be kept awake anymore, and eventually moved the fuck out of that shithole (maybe another story for another day).

Sleeping is also important for me in muscle recovery.  I personally enjoy lifting weights and then putting them down, and so sleep is very important there.  When I am sleep-deprived, I physically cannot put up nearly as much weight as I would be able to well-slept.

Lastly, there have been recent studies to show that lack of sleep could be related to Alzheimer’s disease.  The facts are as follows:
When we are awake, we create these peptides called amyloid beta. Amyloid beta is very prevalent in patients that have Alzheimer’s disease.  We’re not sure what it does, but it is hypothesized that amyloid beta is basically brain waste, and the accumulation of too much of this brain waste causes long-term neurological problems.  But anyway, while some of this beta amyloid is removed when we are awake, we get rid of it a lot quicker when we are asleep.  A chronic lack of sleep makes it so that you cannot clear the beta amyloids quicker than you produce them.  Thus, the beta amyloids will build up over time.  This, in turn, fucks you up.  Or at least, that’s the theory.

So stop coming up with excuses where you don’t sleep enough.  How do you know when you sleep enough?  When you wake up and you feel refreshed.  If you sleep for many hours and consistently do not feel refreshed, I would go and talk to a doctor.  If you have insomnia, keeping a tight sleeping schedule helps.  That is, you get in and out of bed at a fixed time, no matter how much or how little sleep you got.  This overtime apparently trains your brain to fall asleep quicker and sleep deeper.

I guess you don’t really need sleep if you do not do anything intellectual, never drive, never exercise, can risk Alzheimer’s, and generally content with stubbing your toe every 5 minutes.

So go get some sleep.

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