Every night after dark, seven billion people close their eyes and fall asleep. Into a mysterious world that lives according to its own laws that differ from those of earth. Here we live thousands of lives, travel through time and space, are born and die. On average, a person spends 20-25 years in oblivion. Precious time, which is always lacking, is slipping through your fingers. But what if we could dispose of the hours spent sleeping at our own discretion? How many important and useful things would you have managed to do? What if we could escape from the power of sleep?
2007, Iraq. The events in the Arabian desert have attracted the attention of the whole world. American special forces storm the rebel-held city. The third day is running out, and American soldiers are still in battle. Just three pills turned each fighter into a biorobot who does not know fatigue. The new drug is a powerful stimulant. A real cure for sleep.
Today, such drugs are purchased by the armies of many countries. But the main thing is different. They become the favorite pills of taxi drivers, truckers, programmers, in general, everyone who has to work around the clock. The manufacturer’s profits amount to millions of dollars a year. Is this really the means by which we will stop losing a third of our lives? But what will it be like – a life without sleep? What happens if we lose access to this mysterious world of dreams forever?
Life without sleep
Few people know that we already sleep less than our ancestors. Today, the average inhabitant of the planet spends about seven hours in a dream. But a hundred years ago, people slept at least nine hours.
1880. Exhausted by long trials, Thomas Edison falls asleep right on a chair in his laboratory, unaware that the world will change forever from now on. The scientist could not imagine that he had created not just a light bulb, but also a real cure for sleep. Artificial lighting has saved people from having to fall asleep and get up with the sun. How did two hours stolen from sleep affect us? We have gained, this is the time for reality, but what have we lost?
Despite the fact that most of our lives we are surrounded by artificial light, the cells of the body keep the memory of the natural biological rhythm. It is impossible to deceive the chronometer embedded in us from birth. If sleep lasts less than eight hours, a special protein, amyloid, accumulates in our blood. It destroys the walls of blood vessels and provokes heart disease.
A person who sleeps less than seven hours loses up to thirty percent of immune cells that prevent the reproduction of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in the body. If a person sleeps less than six hours, the IQ decreases by fifteen percent, and the risk of obesity increases by twenty-three percent. Maybe because of lack of sleep, all of these diseases are so common in the twenty-first century. So is it worth trying to exclude sleep from your life?
Sleep for a person is an absolutely necessary state in which he must be at a certain time of the day. On average, this is about seven to eight hours. And if this does not happen, if a person does not sell what sleep is for his health, then a lot of unfavorable things happen in his life.
But not everyone recognizes sleep as a blessing. Some people are sincerely convinced that sleeping is quite dangerous. They do their best to learn how to do without sleep. And they do it. For example, some Indian tribes in Brazil sleep less than two hours a day. And this does not affect their health in any way. So, a sleepless life is still possible? But what is it?
After all, no one has tried to conduct research and determine the quality of health and life expectancy of these Indians. These people feel a superstitious fear of going to bed. After all, during sleep, you stop being yourself. You are weak, helpless, and defenseless against any enemy or predator. Of course, it is difficult to argue with this. After all, after a while, after a person has fallen asleep, muscle tone completely disappears in his body. The raised hand falls as lifeless.
It is still a mystery to us why evolution has created such a periodic appearance of a state of helplessness, when a person becomes vulnerable to adverse environmental circumstances for some time.
The mystery was understood only at the end of the twentieth century, when scientists began to study some unique patients. These patients had a rare brain disease. Their bodies could not relax during their sleep, and performed all the actions that they dreamed of. They had damaged the part of the brain that should be responsible for disabling muscle tone.
It was fraught with injury. The patients were forced to sleep in special safe sleeping bags. It turns out that by immobilizing us sleeping, nature has done a great good, protecting living beings from damage in a dream. She protected us so that we could sleep peacefully, despite various external dangers. It turns out that sleep is still a great blessing for us. But still, why?
Why sleep is a blessing
For a long time, scientists’ ideas about sleep were influenced by religious beliefs. After all, sleep was most often compared with death. In principle, this is a small death… death is within life. Sleep is the only opportunity from a theological point of view to go beyond this world during life. After all, no one has returned from that world yet, and the dreamer always wakes up. And the ancients also believed that during sleep, the soul leaves the body. It was believed that in a dream all the processes of the body are suspended, as at the moment of death itself. Only very recently, scientists have established that this statement is incorrect.
When we first measured the electrical activity of the brain during sleep, we got amazing results. When the subjects fell asleep, the brain impulses did not subside, but changed their physical character. Scientists have called this behavior of human brain cells the “choral effect”. In this choral process, the cells of the human brain are discharged, dumping all the fatigue accumulated during the day. At this time, our brain is resting.
But after a while the waves become frequent again, as if the person was awake again. If you wake up the subject at this time, he will tell you that he had a vivid dream. So science has learned that sleep is divided into two phases: slow, in which the brain is resting and fast, where the brain is at the peak of activity.
It turns out that sleep is not a passive state of a person, but rather an active one. The human body itself mostly remains motionless, but the work of the brain at a certain stage of sleep exceeds the activity of the brain during the waking period. So sleep is just another kind of brain activity? And you and I do not rest at all when we are immersed in the dreams of sleep. Hence the logical question arises: why should the human brain change one activity to another? Why can’t we replace sleep with normal wakefulness in order to prolong our physical activity in this world?
One of the American radio hosts participated in an eight-day sleepless marathon. After three days, he became very aggressive. By the end of the marathon, he developed a mental illness that never passed until the end of his life.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects the mental state of any subject, be it a rat, monkey, or human. A person becomes extremely irritable, he makes a lot of mistakes, it is more difficult for him to interact with people around him. The number of various diseases is sharply increasing, especially those that are associated with the mental sphere of the so–called psychosomatic disorders.
What happens in our body when we go without sleep for a long time? A person very quickly begins to develop either a cheerful-passive state or, conversely, aggression. There is a constant change of mood. The autonomic nervous system stops working properly. Accordingly, fluctuations in blood pressure and pulse rate increase. This leads to a violation of glucose metabolism, and symptoms may even appear that resemble the early stages of diabetes mellitus.
If you stay awake continuously for seventeen hours, then a person’s productivity is significantly reduced and attention is weakened, as if you have half a percent of ethanol in your blood, which corresponds to a slight intoxication.