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Re (tilly) 1: Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Mar 02, 2001 at 01:19 UTC ( #61657=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight

A few years ago I read an interesting book on sleep. (Sorry, I forget the title.) Apparently a lot of interesting experiments have been done on the topic. One point that made an impression on me was some of the research that the military had done on sleep.

The point of their research was how much they could push soldiers and have them remain functional. It turns out that in a stressful situation it turns out that most people can do 48 hour stretch and function all of the way through, but then will crash. It also turns out that most people, when not under pressure, sleep 8-10 hours per night. But if you try you can train them to get by on 6 hours of sleep.

People trained to get by on 6 hours a night show an interesting collection of properties. First of all they claim to be functional. But when people who know them well (eg a spouse) is asked, the spouse says that they are not functional. Judging by the performance on ability tests, the spouses are right and despite the person's self-judgement that they are OK they are impaired.

The issue that when you are running a sleep deficit, one of the first things that is impaired is your self-judgement. With your self-judgement impaired you think you are in far better shape than you are. In today's high-pressure world, most of us most of the time run serious sleep deficits. However a fair amount of research says that if we made a habit of getting enough sleep, we actually will get more done with fewer mistakes!

Well do I know that sometimes this is easier said than done, but keep in mind that heroic efforts often merely lead to heroic mistakes and try to keep up on your sleep...

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Re: Re (tilly) 1: Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight
by jepri (Parson) on Mar 02, 2001 at 10:17 UTC
    Interesting. I read about a study (a little more recent, I believe), that concluded that everyone had a 'necessary' amount of sleep that they had to get every night. Nothing new there, but the study shows that if you sleep less than that time you accumulate a sleep deficit (in the the same way bladx would like to accumulate votes).

    So getting, say two hours sleep less than you should each weeknight means that by saturday you are functioning about as well as if you hadn't slept Friday night. Naturally if you're tough you can shrug this off for a while, but it's supposed to catch up with you eventually.

    I know it caught me eventually. At one point in my studies my classmates actually asked me why I bothered to show to lectures, since I used to come in, sit down and immediately fall asleep (in my screwed state, my poor mind had latched onto the importance of attending lectures without picking up the importance of being awake for them).

    I still have a Pavlovian reaction to one lecture theatre. A year later I went to see a Terry Pratchett (great author)talk, walked into said theatre, sat down and FELL ASLEEP.

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it

(tye)Re: Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight
by tye (Sage) on Mar 02, 2001 at 02:32 UTC

    when you are running a sleep deficit, one of the first things that is impaired is your self-judgement

    That is why I drink alcohol when I'm short on sleep... To me, it seems to help my self judgement. (:

            - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
Ra: Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight
by baku (Scribe) on Mar 06, 2001 at 20:13 UTC

    Oddly, the US Army actually teaches sleeping during Basic Combat Training. In order that they won't seem "soft," though, it's done indirectly, in that one first spends six weeks sleeping less than 6 hours a night (6 hours if you're lucky, but with 3-4 nights of 1-hour duty shifts interrupting during the week), and three days (over 70 hours, yes) with no actual sleep to speak of.

    Yes, after 48+ hours, one does start hallucinating. There's just nothing quite like shooting tracer rounds at plastic Communists in the dark when the wraiths are playing bridge in the foxhole beside you and you're pretty sure you saw a white rabbit with a stopwatch.

    On the other hand, it's probably a lot cheaper than most street drugs.

    But what's this someone said about brain damage? That would explain so much of the code I've been left by those "code faeries" who come after I thought I were asleep...

Re: Re (tilly) 1: Hours of sleep I get on an average weeknight
by fpi (Monk) on Mar 07, 2001 at 15:38 UTC
    While I will always be a true perl coder, I am also a physician. Some of my recent training was done outside the U.S., where our schedules were 40 hours on duty, 8 hours off. Doesn't sound too bad, until you wake up and have to start your 2nd 40 hours, then your 3rd....and then keep that going day after day. And those 8 off hours included commuting, eating, showering, and sleeping. Yeah, we never would realize we were impaired, just tired. But considering the situation - a government ( neurosurgical trauma center with a continuous high influx of patients (i.e. no time to sit down, or even eat) - I'm sure our judgement was ridiculously affected. But when you have a neverending line of patients with cracked heads, and you're the only one around, what else can you do but finish one and move onto the next.

    The point is - for those of you that live in first-world countries, be glad you live where there are enough doctors that there are laws limiting the number of hours they can work. Same goes for pilots, truck drivers, etc.

    Some of you mentioned about the concept of catching up on sleep. What is specifically even more interesting is REM sleep. Sleep research shows that if you are deprived of REM sleep (i.e. dreaming, which ironically is NOT the same as deep sleep), your brain needs to catch up specifically on REM sleep, and you will not theoretically be recovered until you do so.
      Data point. In New York State there is a law stating that residents cannot be made to work over 70 hours a week, or over 36 hour shifts.

      I have heard that not a single hospital in the state is actually in compliance.

      Data point. In confidential surveys over half of US doctors can think of someone that they believe they killed due to an error made through sheer exhaustion.

      The first world may be better off, but that doesn't mean that it is in great shape...

Sleep Deficit Recovery Time.
by dmitri (Priest) on Mar 04, 2001 at 10:38 UTC
    An interesting fact I read somewhere: catching up on lost sleep takes only 5 to 6 hours, even if one has not slept for a long time. Not sleeping for over 48 hours may incur serious brain damage.


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