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A Teenager Who Didn't Sleep For 11 Days Shows What Happens To Humans When They Don't Sleep Enough

TED-Ed – In the United States, it’s estimated that 30 percent of adults and 66 percent of adolescents are regularly sleep-deprived. This isn’t just a minor inconvenience: staying awake can cause serious bodily harm. Claudia Aguirre shows what happens to your body and brain when you skip sleep.


Consider this the second entry into my curiosity abyss in which I occasionally wonder about random things. And I’m glad I live in a world where I can find answers to things like “What happens when you’re sleep deprived” by seeing a well-produced YouTube video instead of having to find out like that 17-year-old kid who decided that not sleeping for 11 days was the best way to figure it all out. Can you even imagine? When I don’t get at least five hours of sleep, I usually feel weak the next morning, I get nauseous and occasionally throw up. Totally emasculating and probably not something to admit in a blog, sure. But if that’s me in a normal situation, I can’t even imagine 11 days without sleep would do to me. Would I fall violently ill? Probably. Would I lose all attachment to reality, stuck in some in between world like Inception? Decent possibility. That just seems like a situation you don’t recover from in any way.


But I REALLY can’t imagine being a 17-year-old kid who thinks that’s a good idea. Like how professional could some teenager in Mad Men conducting an experiment where he could have probably completely gone insane actually be? Not very. And what spurs you on to follow through with this insane idea? If that’s a school project, how about you make a diorama or build one of those fizzy volcanos or something instead of possibly bending the very fibers of your perception of reality you overachiever? And if you’re doing it to rebel against mommy and daddy, that’s as bad as being one of the “protest everything” people today. Talk about free love, drugs, all that sounds great but if you’re telling me going back to the 60s and have to deal with kids like that AND chicks with hairy pubes, I’m sticking in 2015 getting a sound seven hours every single time.


Also, while we’re on the topic of sleep, here’s a thing from a month ago in the NY Times that says you might not actually need the seven hours people suggest:


The findings are striking because health authorities have long suggested that poor sleep is rampant in America, and that getting a minimum of seven hours on a consistent basis is a necessity for good health. Many studies suggest that lack of sleep, independent of other factors like physical activity, is associated with obesity and chronic disease.

Yet the hunter-gatherers included in the new study, which was published in Current Biology, were relatively fit and healthy despite regularly sleeping amounts that are near the low end of those in industrialized societies. Previous research shows that their daily energy expenditure is about the same as most Americans, suggesting physical activity is not the reason for their relative good health.

In a typical night, they slept just six and a half hours — slightly less than the average American. In the United States, most adults sleep seven hours or more a night, though a significant portion of the population sleeps less.


Sleep seven hours, don’t sleep seven hours. Whatever man. Just don’t stay up for 11 straight days, I can confirm that’s a bad idea.