B2 High-Intermediate US 14573 Folder Collection
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Ah, sleep!
You can never have enough of it, it seems.
In fact, sometimes it literally feels like you aren't getting enough.
But what if you stopped sleeping altogether?
Strangely, science understands relatively little about why we sleep or how it evolved in the first place.
After all, laying unconscious and dormant for hours on end while predators lurk...
..hardly seems advantageous or smart.
But we have discovered a few correlations.
For example: Adults who sleep between six to eight hours a night tend to live longer.
Excessive sleep, however, can lead to medical problems,
including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Similarly, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to aspects of cardiovascular disease,
obesity, depression, and even brain damage.
But what if you stopped sleeping right now?
Well, after your first sleepless night, your mesolimbic system becomes stimulated...
..and Dopamine runs rampant.
This may actually trigger some actual energy, motivation, positivity, and even sex drive.
Sounds appealing, but it's a slippery slope.
Your brain slowly begins to shut off the regions responsible for planning...
..and evaluating decisions, leading to more impulsive behavior.
Once exhaustion sets in, you'll find yourself with slower reaction times...
and reduced perceptual and cognitive functions.
After a day or two of no sleep, the body loses its ability to properly metabolize
glucose and the immune system stops working as well.
In some cases, three days of no sleep has led to hallucinations.
Care about how you look?
Studies have shown a direct correlation between
sleep deprivation and a person's perceived beauty.
That is to say, sleep-deprived individuals appeared less healthy...
..and less attractive than when they were well rested.
The longest scientifically documented case of being awake was 264 hours, or eleven days.
And while they did develop problems with concentration, perception, and irritability,
the surprising truth is that they suffered no serious long term health effects.
In fact, no individuals under these documented conditions...
.. experienced medical, physiological, neurological, or psychiatric problems.
But these are limited studies and this doesn't mean permanent damage...
..couldn't be inflicted with more time.
Sleep deprivation experiments on rats, for example, generally lead to death after about two weeks.
But scientists aren't totally sure if they're dying from the lack of sleep...
..or from the stress of constantly being woken up.
Perhaps we should look Fatal Familial Insomnia for an answer:
A rare genetic disease of the brain which causes progressively worsening insomnia,
or sleeplessness, leading to hallucinations, dementia, and ultimately death.
This disease has only affected around 100 people in world,
but their average survival span was around eighteen months.
Over time, the lack of sleep becomes worse and the body's organs begin to shut down.
So, while lack of sleep won't necessarily kill you quickly,
continuous sleep deprivation will have a negative effect on your body.
Sleep tight!
But not too much.
Got a burning question you want answered?
Ask it in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.
And if you can't get enough science in your life,
check out the Science Alert Facebook page, which is one of the best out there to keep you
up-to-date and entertained with the latest news and breakthroughs.
And subscribe to ASAP Science for more weekly Science videos.
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What If You Stopped Sleeping?

14573 Folder Collection
Halu Hsieh published on January 10, 2014    劉星倩 translated    林曉玉 reviewed
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