Campus / News / February 4, 2010

Eric’s Corner: Study: sleepiness is drunkenness

Recently, a study was published about the effects sleep deprivation has on the way the human mind performs. In the study, one of the major findings was that sleep deprivation, if it goes on for long enough, effectively renders people inebriated.

Obviously, this is not good, and to see to what extent the damage had taken over the student population of Knox, I asked several people to record their weekly events, whether or not they got enough sleep and how they would spend any extra time in the day.

For the weekly events portion, there were two main categories: people who felt the need to cram stuff into every possible hour of the day and generally ran on the theory that sleep was a sign of weakness, and the people who did not. For the rest of the piece, the people who do as much as possible will be called “stuffers” and the people who value free time will be called “freebees.”

The stuffers usually spent most of their time at clubs, activities and sports, and did homework in during the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere along the way, this made them hate their bodies and they tend to get very little sleep.

None of them reported feeling inebriated when sleep deprivation finally caught up with them, except for the first 30 minutes or so of waking up. This is sometimes referred to as a sleep hangover.

The freebees tended to value their time more than the stuffers, and none of them reported sleep deprivation on any sort of consistent level. The only example of this was panicked all-nighters brought on by exams/large papers. But, since they have more free time, they tend to just pass out the next day after classes are over.

For the freebees, sleep was a non-issue. Some people had trouble falling asleep early to get the recommended eight hours, but they generally got by all right.

Freebees tend to stare blankly (in person, obviously not when they wrote it down) at me when I asked them about their sleep levels and whether they considered it adequate.

They also rarely had a response when I asked them if they could sacrifice something in the name of their bodies, so one may assume this is some sort of disorder that turns them against their body, or else they get bored easily.

For the final category, the freebees tended to spend their hypothetical time hanging out with friends or generally enjoying themselves. This was a harsh contrast to the stuffers, who usually had a long list of stuff they wanted to do but would need a 48 hour day to fit it all in.

To all those people who feel they need more time in the day, there is a solution. There is a way to force your body into a new sleep schedule. It’s called the uber-man schedule (I promise I am not making this up), and it takes about two weeks to get it to work properly. Basically, it breaks up your day into four-hour chunks, with six half-hour power naps in between. So, in total, you only sleep three hours per day, but feel as rested as someone who sleeps normally.

A word of caution if you do try to adopt this new schedule: implement it when school is not happening, because there is a period where you will absolutely not be able to function very well. Otherwise, have fun being way better than everyone else with all the wonderful time on your hands.

Eric Denson


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