Can I do without sleep?

06.06.2013

Lack of sleep is very poorly tolerated by most people. Torture waking applied in Ancient Rome.

It was used in the Middle Ages in order to force him to confess to crimes they did not commit, for the "expulsion of demons." And used it at a later time in Germany, the Gestapo torture chambers, prisons of the USSR in the 30-ies of XX century.

People sometimes themselves deprived of sleep for some lofty goal. For example, Gilgamesch, the hero of the epic of ancient Mesopotamia, had to stay awake for six days and six nights to become immortal. But sleep overcame him, and he was among the mortals. Awake and those who are trying to gain a deeper introspection. In the monasteries the monks of the Middle East was not supposed to sleep more than 3-4 hours, as the evening service ended well after midnight and the morning started early as 4 am.

Many philosophers have extolled the ascetic struggle with sleep, as regarded the time spent in sleep is lost, misspent. To achieve their goal, they are, for example, enclosed under the head stones for pillows. A certain Peter of Alcantara, who during the rest put his head on a sharp stake, never slept more than six hours a day, and so for forty years. At the end of XVIII century German poet and mystic, but Valis praised sleeplessness, believing that "the less we sleep, the more we come to perfection."

Experiments with sleep deprivation — a unique opportunity for modern researchers to penetrate the secrets of regulatory mechanisms and functions of sleep. They were first held in the 80-ies of the XIX century Russian physiologist MM Manassein on puppies. Their repeated several times later. The most remarkable was the world record set by 17-year-old student from California, Randy Gardner in 1965. Most of the time he spent in the company of two of his friends, they keep trying (with increasing difficulty) did not give him to sleep.

At the 4-5th day, Randy became irritable and suspicious. He developed hallucinations and memory loss. It is especially difficult to maintain wakefulness at night — he was having pain and heaviness in the eyelids, he began to lose interest in the continuation of the experiment. By the end of the experiment the press and TV warmed him to this interest, and 11 days after commencement of the experiment Randy spent his last press conference, which was able to cut wood lovely figure.

When asked how he managed to set a new world record for the lack of sleep, he replied: "It was a victory of the spirit over matter." He had not slept 264 hours 12 minutes and then fell into a deep sleep in the sleep laboratory for the study of Naval Hospital in San Diego. Slept for 14 hours and 40 minutes, it was almost healthy.

Randy Gardner lost almost 90 hours of sleep, but after the experience he had slept only 7 hours longer than usual. Due to some phases of sleep happened remarkably effective recovery? This question was answered by another in 1959, exploring another record-breaker.

One of the earliest champions for the complete lack of sleep under experimental conditions was radio commentator from New York, Peter Tripp. In 1959, he had not slept for eight days — 201 hours. Even after the third sleepless night he was followed by nightmares and blackouts were observed. Ink stains and reflections of light on the desk he took for insects, and the studio seemed to him very often filled with rabbits.

After one hundred hours without sleep Tripp was on the verge of madness. He forgot his name, his profession and the place where he was. It seemed to him that from the desk drawers pulled out the flames, and the doctor, which was a corduroy suit, seemed to him plastered with hairy caterpillars. He got rid of his nightmares only once slept 13 hours straight. The total duration of REM sleep compared to the duration of it in ordinary sleep tripled.

The duration of deep slow-wave sleep time increased by almost half — he enhanced the intensity of sleep. When the subjects selectively deprived of REM sleep, the brain is the recovery period was anxious to make up for his previous absence. But that was not at all and may have been related to the personality characteristics of the subjects.

Selectively deprive a person of slow-wave sleep is impossible — too large percentage of sleep time it takes.

When you read about people with little or no need of sleep, it's hard to believe that this "civilization has stolen from them 16 hours of sleep a night." We know that Peter, Faraday, Napoleon, Bechterev and many other great and famous slept only 4-5 hours a day, saving a great performance.

Margaret Thatcher as prime minister, and slept only 4 hours. The same amount spent on sleep Mstislav Rostropovich. The famous traveler Fyodor Grooms in extreme conditions has exceeded all records of wakefulness. During a trip around the world yachtsmen lone decided to experiment «Sleep study, whose purpose was to determine the minimum of sleep, without which a person can not be in those situations where a full-time commitment and maximum concentration.

At the start, in the port of Charleston (South Carolina, USA) on the hand of each sailor was assigned to a sensor with a microchip as a watch. After the first stage of the race of 16 yachts left 9. Among them — two of our vessel: Fedor Konyukhova and Victor Yazikova. The length of the second stage of the race Cape Town (South Africa) — Auckland (New Zealand) 7000 nautical miles. Sailors slept no more than 5-6 hours a day, but no one even come close to the record Konyukhova, throughout the regatta was sleeping for 10-15 minutes every 2 hours. In total sleep at night it took 3-3.5 hours. After the trip, he was in good shape.

People are divided into those who remember their dreams, and who does not remember. Among the memories there are those who see in a dream that does not sleep. They are considered false suffering from insomnia. There have been many similar cases, and about the most difficult one of the researchers told the pathology of sleep — Peter Hori, director of Dartmouth sleep lab in Hanover (New Hampshire). One student from Dartmouth slept every night for 8 hours, but during all periods of REM sleep he dreamed that he was awake. In the morning he got up completely broken.

The other case. In the laboratory approached by a woman 70 years old, I assure you that in my life did not sleep more than 4 hours per night. It turned out that the dream of the woman extraordinarily productive. Her brain very quickly reach the stage 3 and 4 NREM sleep. Then, after about one and a half hours, the brain immediately on foot in a short period of REM sleep. Then again — a deep REM sleep, and behind it — fast. And awakening. Since her brain with lightning speed "jumps" preliminary stage 1 and 2, she did not need more than 4 hours of sleep. She was perfectly healthy.

Sometimes a person does not sleep well for many years, although the reasons behind his insomnia are long gone. This — "functionally autonomous" insomnia. At one time, for reasons of psychological or organic nature of man could barely sleep. As a result, the night has become a torment for him, with its onset, he was not afraid to go to sleep and it did not fall asleep because he was afraid. Bedding, pillow, bedside lamp and other items associated bedroom he did not sleep, and the tensions and fear. Such sufferers sleep well in unfamiliar surroundings.

There are a great many reasons that prevent sleep. They say the number of goals — as many varieties of insomnia. Could not sleep because the brain is a bad learner serotonin, the "soporific nectar", and is probably out of the process of formation of serotonin from tryptophan, a substance found in milk, cheese, meat. Enrolling with food in the human body, tryptophan is absorbed into the blood and in the brain turns into serotonin. Everyone knows that hunger prevents sleep, and well-fed sleepy. But if you managed to sleep hungry, the people's observation says that someone is sleeping — he dines, as for a time a dream drowns hunger …

It happens that in the period preceding the transition into REM sleep, there is an involuntary wince, "jumping knees to chin" and then sleep, "flies", and then a long vzbodrenny WinCE can not sleep.
Insomnia may be a consequence of persistent pain or psychological reasons. "Small children are not allowed to sleep, and from the large did not fall asleep." Who are the parents of adult children do not know? Or when in an accident, lishivshemusya sleep include the words of the poet A. Apukhtina:

Black thoughts like flies all night do not give me peace,
Sting yazvyat and circling over my poor head!
Only one shall drive, let alone in another heart sank —
All of life comes to mind, so fruitlessly in the dreams of living!

Then there is nothing for it but to resort to sleeping pills. And they tend to suppress one or another phase of sleep (natural sleeping until after all have not already).

Whether to believe reports about people not sleeping at all? If they do exist, they are few, very few in the world. At one time, had to read about the two well-documented cases where people do not need sleep. One — the Italian peasant, the other — a resident of Australia. They were tested in a sleep lab and made sure that they never really asleep.

There were also reports of unique mathematical abilities have little or no sleeping. For example, about Belgians Jorge Mazyui, are extracted in 30 seconds in the mind of the root of the forty-seventh degree. This typically takes 10-12 hours. When he was 38, he was having trouble sleeping and held a night-time mathematical exercises. The next 30 years he slept for 2 hours a day. He was an employee of customs.

In the late 1960s, and also reported on Yugoslav peasant, which received in childhood head injury after she stopped sleeping and showed great aptitude for mathematics.

The magazine "Russian Antiquity" in 1886 described the approximate Empress Elizabeth, who was awake all night round at her chambers in time to warn of the danger. 10-15 minute nap in the afternoon in a quiet corner of the returned him to power …


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