The long-term deprivation of sleep can be injurious to human beings. There is a disturbance known as lethal familial insomnia. In this dysfunction, individuals experience highly critical disruptions in sleep. Slow-wave sleep ultimately disappears and only brief periods of REM (random eye movement phase when people have dreams) sleep arises. This disease is lethal, but whether this is due to the sleep disruptions themselves, or whether the sleep disturbances are simply a sign of other neurological problems, remains unclear.
Tests with animals also suggest that permanent deprivation of sleep can be risky. Professionals set up one experimental rat on a platform surrounded by water. Any time the animal commences to fall sleeping, the platform is twisted so that the animal need to wake up and shift to avoid drifting down into the water. The other rat (control animal) is also pressured to move, but because this rat may or may not be asleep at the time, its sleep is not necessarily uneasy. The procedure decreased sleep time by 87 percent for the experimental animal and 31 percent for the control animal. Findings exposed that sleep deprivation adversely affected health. The influence animal remained in perfect wellness whereas experimental animal grew to be less strong and uncoordinated; it misplaced its capability to regulate its whole body temperature. Similar examination cannot be performed by using human beings. Therefore it is difficult earn direct inferences.
Recuperation theories of sleep make specific predictions about the effects of sleep deprivation. Because recuperation theories are based on the proposition that sleep is a response to the accumulation of debilitating effect of wakefulness it is predicted that long periods of wakefulness would produce physiological and behavioral disturbances. These disturbances would grow steadily worse as the sleep deprivation continues. After a period of deprivation has ended much of the missed sleep would be regained.
Two classic sleep deprivation case studies indicate some of the instances of effects. A researcher reports the case study of a group of sleep deprived students. While there are many differences in subjective experiences of the sleep–evading persons, there were common features. During the first night the subject did not feel very tired or sleepy. He could read or study or do laboratory work, without much attention from watcher. But he usually felt an attack of drowsiness between 3 am and 6 am. Next morning the subject felt well, except for a slight uneasiness which always appeared on sitting down and resting for any length of time. However, if he occupied himself with ordinary daily task he was likely to forget having spent a sleepless night. During the second night, reading or study was almost impossible. Again between 3 am and 6 am, desire for sleep was overpowering. Later in the morning the sleepiness diminished once more and the subject could perform some routine work. It was not safe for him to sit down however, without danger of falling asleep.
As a part of a 1965 science fair project in the US, Randy Gardner and two classmates planned to break the then world record of 260 hours of wakefulness. Randy succeeded to stay awake for 11 days on no case his behavior was abnormal or disordered. He went to sleep after 264 hours and 12 minutes. When asked how he managed to stay awake for 11 days, he replied politely “It’s just mind over matter”. He slept 14 hours the first night and gradually got back to 8 hour schedule.
Mrs. Maureen Weston later supplanted Randy Gardner in the Guinness Book of Records. During a rocking chair marathon in 1977, she kept rocking for 449 hours (18 days, 17 hours) – an impressive record of rocking round the clock.
Investigations have assessed the effects on human subjects of sleep-deprivation schedules ranging from a slightly reduced amount of sleep during one night to total sleep deprivation for several nights. The effects have been noted with respect to mood, cognition, motor performance and physiological functions.
Even moderate amounts of sleep deprivation – for example, 3 or 4 hours in one night-have been found to have three consistent effects. First, sleep-deprived subjects display an immense sleepiness. They report being more sleepy, and they fall asleep more quickly if given the opportunity. Second, sleep-deprived subjects display disturbances on various written tests of mood. Third, they perform poorly on tests of vigilance, such as looking at a series of colored lights and responding when encountering green light.
After 2 or 3 days of continuous sleep deprivation, people experience micro-sleeps. Micro-sleeps are brief periods of sleep, typically about 2 or 3 seconds long, during which eyelids droop and the subjects become less responsive to external stimuli, even though they remain standing or sitting. Micro-sleeps disrupt performance.
Remarkably the results of sleep deprivation on cognitive functions, motor functioning and physiological capabilities have been much less steady. Deficits have been observed in some tests but not in others also after lengths intervals of deprivation. For example, several researchers found that intervals of sleep deprivation lasting up to 72 hours had no effect on genuine capability or motor functioning, except for minimizing time period to exhaustion. Challenging cognitive ability, such as IQ analysis, have confirmed to be mostly defense to disturbance by sleep deprivation. Although capability on intelligence test is propelled very little by sleep deprivation, performance on tests of originality is disrupted.
If subjects were deprived of the occasion to eat, the consequences would be acute and unavoidable. Starvation and death would ensue. These have been no such dramatic effects reported in sleep deprivation studies.
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Prof. F M Sahoo :A reputed professor of psychology and management, is a renowned author of several books on Human Behavior. To Learn More Please Visit : Consequences of Sleep Deprivation ,
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