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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Beauty Rest

Deep sleep stage, vital for memory, learning, and brain restoration (Wikimedia Commons)

On December 29, 1963, two teenage boys from San Diego California decided to stay awake for as long as possible to fulfill a science project. Out of the two friends, Randy Gardner was the one who held the record for the longest time a person stayed awake: 11 days and 25 minutes. 

While completing the project, they did a couple of activities testing Gardner’s cognitive and sensory skills. His sleep-deprived brain made Gardener forgetful and jumbled. During the experiment, a Researcher from Stanford University named William Dement visited him and asked for permission to study his brain. When Gardner decided to end the experiment on January 8, 1934, he went to a lab where researchers followed his brain activity while he slept for 14 hours. The studies showed no short-term effects, but when he was older, he developed a severe case of insomnia. 

Sleep is one of the most important things for the brain to function; it gives the human body the chance to rest and reset and to complete multiple rapid eye movement (REM) cycles. 

There are three stages of the REM cycle, the first making up only five percent of the process. This stage takes place when a person is barely asleep and usually lasts around ten minutes. The second stage is light but deeper sleep than stage one, which is important because the brain can organize memories and information from the time you are awake. The third stage is considered the deepest stage of sleep in the REM cycle, allowing your body to repair injuries and reinforce your immune system. REM is important because it stimulates the areas of your brain that help with learning and is associated with increased production of proteins. 

A person will typically complete four to six sleep cycles each night, getting around seven to nine hours of sleep. 

While missing one cycle a night is not too damaging to a person’s overall health, multiple missed cycles over some time can leave you feeling groggy, emotional, and fatigued. This is because each phase of the sleep cycle restores and rejuvenates the brain for optimal function. 

Long-term sleep deprivation can increase your chance of having more serious health issues such as; heart disease, type two diabetes, depression, and even obesity. Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops due to insulin resistance, because of the lack of insulin. There is a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream which increases blood pressure, due to the additional production of the hormone cortisol caused by the lack of sleep. 

Cortisol is a stress hormone that keeps our bodies awake. Because of the lack of sleep, we typically crave foods and drinks that are high in sugar and carbohydrates. Over time, an increase in consumption can cause one to gain weight and increase hypertension, which can be harmful to your eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart. 

These negative effects can be experienced if a person only gets four to six hours of sleep.

Developing a new sleeping routine, making lifestyle changes, and acknowledging when the lack of sleep is a cause for concern are essential to prevent these negative side effects. 

The quality of sleep and how rested a person feels afterward is just as important as how long that person slept. 

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