Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sleepless in Santa Barbara

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Finals week supplies

It really is almost a daily routine during finals to be in a similar state of unhealthy delirium with your friends as a result of drowning in water coffee. Oh, and don’t forget those really healthy late-night food runs – yeah, I know which drive-thru’s are open 24 hours…

After doing this for three years, I now am wondering how we all do this. How do we manage to put 10 weeks of information into our minds in 48 hours, pushing our bodies to stay up later than we should and waking up earlier than we want to (if we even sleep at all)? I’m going to explore the biology of sleep – or lack thereof. 

Sleep deprivations causes an altered state of consciousness – hence, the delirium – which result in loss of cognitive and motor functions. In sleep-deprived humans, recordings of electrical activity along the scalp show that there are periods of lower activity where a human is in this altered state of consciousness despite being physically awake, but no research has proven why humans biologically need sleep. There is no smarty-pants scientific proven reason for why we need to those precious eight hours of snooze every night.

Randy Gardner holds the record for the longest period a human has gone without sleep without using stimulants. Though he did experience moodiness, problems with concentration and short-term memory, paranoia, and hallucinations while he was awake for 11 days, he suffered from absolutely no long term psychological or cognitive effects.

This blows my mind. But I guess makes me feel better about charging on with my studying, embracing my cognitively dysfunctional brain in all its glory. Oh, college…

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