Ritchie Armer

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Maybe we dont need sleep after-all

After looking into and researching sleep, all I have found are many theories. No scientist actually knows the purpose of sleep. Some suggest its so we can recharge our batteries after a long day, but studies suggest that the amount of energy saved from a good sleep is equivalent to that of eating a round of toast.
In the 1960s a guy called Randy Gardner stayed awake for 11 days, his first 5 days were hard going, but after the 5th day he started to level out. On his last day, reports suggest he seemed of normal health and was even beating some of the people present at pinball.
I believe the reason we feel the need to sleep is because of an addiction to chemicals released when we do. This is why after a few days without sleep we start to experience "cold turkey" and the experiences are almost identical to those of a person coming off drugs. I also believe that these chemicals might be slightly neuro toxic, this being the reason as we get older our brain starts to degenerate. Again i point to people who have gone past the 5 day mark and have leveled out, makes me wonder, could they have carried on further. I believe sleep is our bodies response head injuries or other problems in the head. This is why we always feel sleepy when we have a head ache. Sleep is meant as the bodies general anesthetic to knock us out while it heals. But we have abused this natural drug and it slowly eats away at us........ It is 2:30 in the morning so im off to bed.

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    Aug 26 2012: As a layman, I have read numerous theories about sleep and find all of them interesting. One that paticularly made me think was an idea that sleep posed no benefit from an evolutionary perspective. The argument was it seemed that a conscious organism would be more likely to survive and prosper than one that risked getting killed while unconscious. Yet obviously sleep has remained an evolutionary trait of most organisms that are also capable of consciousness. So, I asked myself why that might be. And came up with an intersting possibility.

    Consciousness is not the normal state of a living organism. It requires the organism to expend more energy than unconsciousness. In the "sleep state", the organism is at it's most functional use of it's current resources.

    To me, it seems that consciousness evolved as a requirement for an organism to meet the two fundamental needs of any organism...the need to acquire nutrients from it's environment ("eat") to insure it's own survival, and the need to reproduce to ensure the survival of the organism's species. The more "mobile" the organism needs to be within it's environment to do these things, the more conscious it needs to be. A tree doesn't have to be very conscious to acquire nutrients...the nutrients are brought to the tree by the sunshine and through it's root system. Reproduction occurs by the tree shedding it's "seeds"...the tree doesn't have to go to a single's bar to find another tree.

    I propose that once a Human Being satisfies the two basic requirements, a return to the unconscious "sleep state" is a natural part of the organism trying to reduce it's energy consumption to the lowest level needed to keep it alive. Once the "need" to "eat" again (and the other thing) become dominant for the organism to continue to survive, it becomes conscious enough to persue those activities (at the very basic level).

    Why else would I want to take a nap after a big, satisfying meal? Or after "the other thing"? :-)
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    Aug 26 2012: Hmmm, very interesting, Ritchie. However, an experiment that I have read is completely different from yours. I have read a similar experiment in which a person was forced not to sleep for a week, but almost passed out. He tried his best not to sleep (because he was paid more for every night he resisted), but after 5 days, he began to feel very strange things; he argued that his cereal for breakfast tasted as if it had something like metal inside. Also, he became very violent and short-tempered. Finally, the experiment ended when he locked himself in a bathroom and slept. From this, we can see that sleeping does not only charge one's energy, but also controls very important functions that human have such as the five senses.
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    Aug 26 2012: Every one needs sleep. If you do not sleep you will die. The disease is called

    Fatal Familial Insomnia.

    People present with insomnia usually in middle age and die within months.
  • Aug 26 2012: " I also believe that these chemicals might be slightly neuro toxic, this being the reason as we get older our brain starts to degenerate."
    Yes, that makes sense, the body poisons itself!
    And the majority of old people has no decreased brain function, they do pretty much the same they did all their life and you can talk to them like with any other person.

    "But we have abused this natural drug and it slowly eats away at us"
    You can't abuse sleep, how could you? When you slept enough you simply wake up. And when you ain't tired you will not fall asleep.
  • Aug 26 2012: Sleep deprivation is a form of torture. If you want to experience the full effect of this torture method, you should try not to sleep for a whole month. Then again, you would probably die from a hemorrhagic stroke due to the sleep deprivation.
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    Aug 26 2012: " No scientist actually knows the purpose of sleep."

    Really? What about :

    immunity
    growth
    memory
    rest
    ?

    But the strangest thing about your idea, to me, is that an animal who could manage without sleep would benefit so much from this that his genes would supersede rival sleeper genes very quickly. Basically, nothing in the biosphere would sleep.
    It's a crual world, you better bet everything is sleeping just what it needs to, or can afford to.
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    Aug 26 2012: Also, if people want what few facts there are, they can be read on the web. This section is labeled ideas.
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      Aug 26 2012: It's useful to support with evidence, though.
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    Aug 26 2012: I would be more than willing to experiment. But unfortunately I don't have the controlled environment in which I would like to carry out such a test.
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    Aug 26 2012: It is your, not my idea on stake here ... :o)

    And because I am not going to volunteer as a sleepy guinea pig here, I will be allowed to cuddle up in the hay and to fall asleep over the lulling sound of your busy coffee machine ... :o)

    So I am curious and will return in 30 days to this conversation to find out about your final status.... ;o)
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    Aug 26 2012: Common symptoms of cold Turkey. Withdrawal symptoms of most kinds can typically last between 5 to 10 days, and the people that have done the experiment past the tenth day from what reasearch I have done seem fine. I think you will find the big problem with the meth heads might actually be the Meth itself. I think if you released than much Methamphetamine and Dopamine into your own head, you wouldnt function well either...... With or without sleep.
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    Aug 26 2012: On this topic and as a good researcher you could have already shared facts instead of just ideas...

    Self-experiment is the key here, and headache no excuse! :o)
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    A wal

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    Aug 26 2012: I hallucinated both times when I went for days without sleep. Everything starts felling like a dream. You're right that there is a cut off point when you start to fell better, but it's slowly down hill from there. Sleep is needed to keep us sane. It's not about recharging your body. How could being unconscious give you energy? Our brains are very advanced computers that need very regular defragging or we just end up a mess.
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    Aug 26 2012: Yea maybe you are on to something, can millions of meth heads be wrong, after all they function so well and are a pleasure to be around...