To Sleep Deprived Anonymous

To Sleep Deprived Anonymous,

Considering the fact that I have been sleeping at approximately 4 a.m. every day, and considering the fact that I typically need to wake up at 10:00 a.m., I have found myself in this constant sleepless state which comes intact with sleep deprivation. When I tell people about my absurd sleep schedule, they inform me of all the negative effects of sleep deprivation. For example, one of my friends constantly reminds me sleep deprivation will cause  my face to start bloating and pimples to form. Furthermore, studies have well documented the negative effects of sleep deprivation: decreased vigilance, impaired decision-making, reduced concentration, irritability, sleepiness, increased fatigue, and difficulty in thinking. However, a limited number of studies concerning the positive effects of sleep deprivation have come to fruition.

Before I address the positive effects that I have found concerning sleep deprivation, I find it necessary to explain why some people hugely exhibit the negative effects of sleep deprivation when sleep-deprived, whereas other individuals do not exhibit these negative effects to the same extent.  Individuals can be classified as either fatigue-resistant or fatigue-vulnerable. Fatigue-resistant individuals, akin to the word resistant, will not exhibit fatigue after sleep deprivation. It is said that these individuals have a natural resistance to its negative effects. Considering I see many of you so lively in the morning, I assume that many of you may be fatigue-resistant individuals. On the other hand, fatigue-vulnerable individuals will demonstrate fatigue after sleep deprivation, and will largely exhibit its negative effects. As a result, stating that sleep deprivation affects all individuals to the same extent is blatantly incorrect. Fatigue-resistant individuals will show minimal effects as compared to fatigue-vulnerable individuals. If you are a fatigue-vulnerable individual, it may be a good idea to ensure that you’ve had enough sleep.

Furthermore, polyphasic sleep permits individuals to be sleep deprived with a higher sense of alertness and productivity. Polyphasic sleep essentially revolves around the fact of taking 15 to 20 minute power naps at different times throughout the day, resulting in a total of 3 hours. Although 3 hours may seem minimal, it was found that compared to individuals who slept for a continuous 3 hours, individuals who experienced polyphasic sleep were on average more alert and more productive. This strange “paradoxical” aspect may lie in its effect on circadian rhythms. As opposed to continual sleep,the sleep we typically experience, power naps will maintain the body’s circadian rhythms. In turn, an individual’s alertness and productivity will be  maintained. Polyphasic sleep has also been recorded to increase creativity, as artists have been  known  to sleep using the polyphasic sleep system. Therefore, if you want to be sleep deprived yet have an increased creativity capacity and a maintained alertness and productivity, polyphasic sleep serves as a good substitute.

In individuals who are fatigue-resistant or who sleep polyphasically, sleep deprivation not only has diminished negative effects, but it also has positive emotional effects. To begin with, although it is commonly said that sleep deprivation  induce sadness, it was found that sleep deprivation in fact induces  a cheerful mood. It has been found that sleep deprivation decreases the activity of emotional areas in the brain, such as the amygdala and gyri of the limbic system, in depressed individuals to activity levels observed in that of non-depressed individuals. This reduction in activity is believed to be the source of the alleviation of depression and a cheerful mood. Furthermore, it has been found that sleep deprivation can result in heightened awareness. Normally, in the presence of sleep deprivation, the parietal lobes are observed to be less active. These lobes are responsible for sense of self and spatial processing. As a decrease in parietal lobe activity is seen during sleep deprivation, this may in turn result in a decreased sense of self. With a decrease in one’s sense of self, a person is recorded to have a greater connection to their environment, resulting in a greater or heightened awareness.

Therefore, considering that sleep deprivation is such a big topic at McMaster University, I hope that you’ll find this blog post as an interesting twist to a topic that is covered so extensively. As we go into exams, make sure to get sleep, but if you do have to pull an all nighter, I permit you to use this blog post as a scapegoat.

Written by Hadi Tehfe/ Image Source

References:

When Too Little Sleep Is a Good Thing. (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2017, from      http://www.sleepreviewmag.com/2005/09/when-too-little-sleep-is-a-good-thing/

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