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Desc:In 1959 a radio host attempted to set a world record for staying awake, it kind of messed him up.
Category:Educational, Science & Technology
Tags:sleep, sleep deprivation, peter tripp, go to bed, jerk science
Submitted:Gill_Sans
Date:10/13/12
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Comment count is 34
gmol
We still dont understand precisely why our brains need sleep. It doesn't seem like a super awesome adaptation.
Mr. Purple Cat Esq.
I read once that since our fancy stereoscopic colour vision doesnt work at night (and we're pretty much blind in the dark) weve adapted to just spend the night sleeping and staying out of harms way

Anaxagoras
That's absurd. We have an entire secondary visual system developed for use at night, and it works pretty well. Not as well as cats' and dogs' vision, but not bad nevertheless. What's more, if you're going to spend the night "out of harms way", being unconscious & dead to the world is probably the worst possible way to do it.

Baldr
That doesn't explain why animals that can function well at night sleep though.

I'm personally leaning towards the idea that brains need some down time to get the day's experiences sorted out. Even organisms with relatively uncomplicated brains like fruit flies and bees appear to need sleep.

Architeuthis Tux
Sleep is when the thoughts for the next day nest in our minds. If you don't sleep the thoughts from the previous day die and begin to rot.

Anaxagoras
Actually, current research suggest (although it hasn't proved definitevely) that dreaming is, essentially, a simulation machine. We have definitevely proven that thinking about an action (such as shooting basketball hoops) improves performance almost as much as actually physically practicing.

So the most popular current theory is that dreaming is designed to simulate situations that we might encounter so that we can react better if they do happen to occur.

A slightly unpleasant corollary of this is that nightmares are the core reason we dream.

cognitivedissonance
You're all wrong. A dream is a wish your heart makes.

Blue
Radiolab has a really good episode on sleep. It turns out humans are actually pretty unusual in the way we sleep. Most animals literally sleep with one eye open and one half of the brain awake. It has a lot to do with our brains.

I'd respond to the stuff about why we sleep, but really, you should listen to the podcast. It's thoroughly enjoyable and gives a lot of insight into the current theories about sleep.

Syd Midnight
Dogs dream about chasing things and cats dream about stalking things. Which is kinda cute trivia except they found out by poking wires into lab animals brains to destroy the sleep paralysis part, so whenever they started to dream they'd act it out.

And that's probably what everyone assumed they dreamt about anyways, so it's not like it came as a surprise or anything. Except to the test animals, cause every time they fell asleep they'd get right up and run into a wall or the side of their cage and wake up all hurt and confused. I fucking hate when that happens.

Also dreams help us defrag our short term memories and file them into long term memories or some shit, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=tetris-dreams

gmol
Perhaps biology has figured out simulation is useful for optimization.

Still seems odd that you should go crazy or die if you miss a few days.
gmol
God damb out of.thread reply.

Xenocide
I had a friend in high school who decided one summer, for no goddamn reason, to see how long he could stay up. He got himself some coffee (which he had never drank before) and energy drinks and played video games and did jumping jacks to keep himself awake.

He made it about three and a half days, and has no memory whatsoever of the last day. He finally fell asleep on the floor of his room and slept for about 18 hours.

Just before he fell asleep, he wrote a note to himself on a scrap of paper. He doesn't remember doing it, but he remembers it being in his hand when he woke up. The note read:

"Once bread has become toast...IT CAN NEVER BE BREAD AGAIN."
retrocious
Well, it's true

cognitivedissonance
I went four days and started talking to a painting of a parrot. I observed it flapping its wings and squawking at me.

"His career soon suffered a massive downturn when he was involved in the payola scandal of 1960. Like several other disc jockeys (including Alan Freed) he had been playing particular records in return for gifts from record companies. Indicted only weeks after his stunt, it emerged that he had accepted ,050 in bribes. Despite his claim that he "never took a dime from anyone", he was found guilty on a charge of commercial bribery, receiving a 0 fine and a six-month suspended sentence. Even his wakeathon record did not endure for long. Other DJs had quickly attempted to beat it (such publicity stunts being common in radio broadcasting at the time) and Dave Hunter, in Jacksonville, Florida, soon claimed success (225 hours). Six years after Tripp's record, it was smashed by high school student Randy Gardner, who lasted 11 days."

Old_Zircon
I was up for 70 hours once on a road trip. The last few were pretty strange and definitely included seeing things and people that weren't there (I could still make that distinction).

Never again.

Old_Zircon
Also, respect to Xenocide's friend for pushing himself to the limits of human endurance in pursuit of the truth.

Old_Zircon
Incidentally, eating half a dozen Sominex did pretty much the same thing (for me at least) as staying awake for 3 days.

Old_Zircon
It is often claimed that Gardner's experiment demonstrated that extreme sleep deprivation has little effect, other than the mood changes associated with tiredness (mood swings, short temper, loss of concentration).[6] This is primarily due to a report by researcher William Dement, who stated that on the tenth day of the experiment, Gardner had been, among other things, able to beat Dement at pinball.

However, Lt. Cmdr. John J. Ross, who monitored his health, reported serious cognitive and behavioral changes. These included moodiness, problems with concentration and short term memory, paranoia, and hallucinations. On the fourth day he had a delusion that he was Paul Lowe winning the Rose Bowl, and that a street sign was a person[citation needed].

kingarthur
I once had a job that basically forced me to work 48 hours straight about once a week for a while (this being in red state Mississippi) for 21K a year. They then laid me off after a month because I would once a week became a barely controlled murder machine. I sued.

Now I make it a point to not have to stay up more than 20 hours or so once a week, which is my own doing because my night shift job basically keeps me from contact with my loved ones if I don't do that once a week. I've gotten past the point where you see squiggly black shapes out of the corner of your eye. It's nicer that way.
bac
So anybody know what this is from? U;d really like to see the whole thing I remember reading about ths guy for science class in highschool. If I remember correctly he ended up staying awake 201 hours because he ran away in paranoia and they couldn't find him.
memedumpster
I used to stay up for four and five day stretches. It's fun when the hallucinations indistinguishable at the time from reality starts.
fedex
I did too, did you ever get that thing where all the people turn grey and things get really quiet?

cognitivedissonance
Had the noise dampening effect.

At one point I was about four days in, and I just started wandering the streets of Olympia, aimlessly. I wound up at one of the cemetaries, and I started seeing ghosts, just nonchalantly sitting on top of their tombstones. They were sort of vaguely humanoid blobs of SHAPE, I can't really describe it. Not like any special effects in any movie, ever. One at a time they started asking me for cigarettes, and I remember feeling terrible that I didn't have any cigarettes for them. I remember that struck me as terrible.

I wasn't scared of the ghosts. The real terrors were when I got back home and tried to close my eyes, and I saw everybody I had seen that day, zipping past my eyeballs at a high speed, hurky jerky rate.

memedumpster
For me, every blank TV and computer monitor was a gateway to a frantic word where shadow monsters did things. Sometimes I thought they could see me. I'd also see big mansions built seemingly at the ends of paths suspended in space. Crawling air was also common, and it fascinates me how that is more of a hallucination of "tone" than perception.

Old_Zircon
I've had the noise dampening effect (sort of, everything sounds quiet but simultaneously feels overwhelmingly loud) after being awake for like 15 hours, more when I was a kid than now.

takewithfood
I live with chronic insomnia, though it only really affects me in late fall and throughout the winter months. (Why do I live in Canada again?) I don't think I've ever done more than 4 nights without sleep in a row, though 2 or even 3 is pretty common. I've had hallucinations and done some pretty irrational stuff, but I definitely wouldn't call any of them fun.

I tend to go through a phase I have trouble with logic and memory - like being convinced that there are or should be extra rooms in my house that I have never been in, or that there are strangers in the house, in one of those rooms. I frequently forget what day it is, what the people in my life do or where they live. I'll brag about being able to read a whole book just by flipping through it or just by touching it, and be 100% certain that I know what's on every page. Once I was surprised to see that my friend who lives down the street was back from the war we're not actually in with Tchad. That sort of stuff.

I never actually see things that aren't really there, so maybe the word "hallucination" is too strong. If I ever experience something that didn't happen, it's almost always in the past, as a memory, as something that has already happened to me. I only ever seem to suddenly realize "oh, hey, I forgot I'm supposed to stuff all my socks in the sink drains; better go do that now" without remembering why or who told me to, or think "oh good, the newts have all gone home" without a clear memory of having seen newts in my living room, or recall that my best friend said that she was having pancakes for lunch with Princess Toadstool and the evil queen from Snow White. (These are all actual examples, sadly.)

Often I'll just have a lot difficulty telling for certain what is and isn't possible. I usually get the feeling that this stuff isn't right or can't actually happen, but I won't be able to put my finger on why. Is it wrong that she's having pancakes with Princess Toadstool and the evil queen because they aren't real, or is it that they just aren't friends anymore, or...? Despite all the confusion, usually I'll be pretty arrogant about it and think I totally have a handle on things, too, "not like that other time".

I get this stuff the most in fall; by winter I usually settle into a rhythm where I get a little sleep every other night, and gradually get more and more as spring rolls in. I get a good laugh out of most of these things after the fact, but at the time they're frustratingly and embarrassingly confusing, and sometimes pretty frightening. This has been going on for years now. Insomnia is utter shit.
takewithfood
Jesus, I don't know what compels me to tell you guys this stuff.

Nikon
>my best friend said that she was having pancakes for lunch with Princess Toadstool

Okay, as hallucinations go, that might not be so bad.

takewithfood
Yeah, I blame that one largely on Adventure Time.

memedumpster
You tell us because you know we will find this fascinating and amazing and will wish you the best through all of these difficulties?

takewithfood
Thank you. It's worked out that way so far, yeah.

CrimsonHyperSloth
I used to have horrible insomnia from my previous depression, but I never had the hallucinations as such. I did, and seem to permanently have, a very fucked up dream state. With fun variations.

One thing I seem to be getting now is half-waking up for an hour or two and lucid dreaming with my eyes open and having a hard time discerning reality from whatever. I'm immobile and cannot move, like being trapped in a shell.

I recently awoke during a hotel stay with my girlfriend to find myself very angry that I didn't get to watch her give birth to the baby she was carrying as a surrogate for a gay friend (that never happened). I was angry and confused as to why she had no physical signs of birth like a change in hip shape or stretch marks.

takewithfood
That sounds like sleep paralysis, which I gather is sort of like the opposite of sleep walking: instead of being asleep but free to move and act out your dreams, you're awake, but unable to move. I've experienced it a couple times, but only for a few brief moments after/while waking up. I've never had it for anywhere near as long as you, but I've heard of cases of people having really long episodes on a regular basis. Should be lots of videos about it on YouTube, including videos of people's own experiences.

Old_Zircon
Back in the 90s, maybe '98, I used to post on the World Wide Warez Board, and there was a weird clique of 4 or 5 people on there who insisted they were literally unable to sleep and had been awake for as long as 8 or 9 months at a stretch. I never figured out if they were trolls or attention seekers or actually believed it, discovered PoE and usenet, and moved on.
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