Sleep Deprivation and the Fake Russian Experiment – The Truth about Insomnia

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There’s a tale of a purported “Russian Sleep Experiment” that supposedly happened in the 1940s when Russian researchers kept five political prisoners awake for half a month using an experimental gas. The incident never happened. It’s a fictional account from someone’s imagination that gained a lot of notoriety on the Internet after appearing on a short story site called Creepypasta in August, 2010.

The story says that the subjects were kept in a closed environment where their oxygen intake was carefully monitored so the gas didn’t accidentally kill everybody since the gas was highly toxic.

This was before closed circuit cameras, so the only way to monitor the subjects was by using microphones connected with cables that ran through small porthole sized windows of the five-inch thick glass. Inside the chamber were books and cots to sleep on, running water and a toilet. The subjects were given enough dried food to last them through the experiment.

…and then what happened?

According to the story, everything seemed to go fine for the first five days and the prisoners didn’t complain, probably because they were told that once the test was completed, they would be freed. Their activities were monitored as well as their conversations. After about the fourth day, the researchers noted that the prisoners’ conversations seem to take on a darker tone.

By the fifth day, they began complaining about the events and circumstances that lead them to being where they were, and, according to the researchers, they began demonstrating symptoms of severe paranoia. They no longer would talk to each other and started whispering into the microphones and the portholes.

After nine days of confinement, one of the prisoners began screaming. The researchers reported that he ran the full length of the chamber back and forth yelling as loudly as he could for three solid hours. He continued trying to scream but by then his voice had been reduced to an almost imperceptible whisper and the researchers said he had probably torn his vocal cords.

Effect on Others

The other prisoners reacted most surprisingly. They continued to whisper into the microphones until a second prisoner began to scream exactly like the first. The others in the group started tearing the books apart and smeared each page with their own feces and then, calmly, pasted the pages over the glass portholes. At that point all the screaming stopped.

There were no more sounds from the room. After three additional days, the researchers carefully began examining the microphones to make sure they were working since they thought it wasn’t likely that no sounds would be coming from a room with five people inside. The oxygen measurements indicated that the five prisoners must still be alive because measurements showed there was normal oxygen consumption in the chamber. In fact, the oxygen measurements were higher than expected, indicating that the prisoners were consuming oxygen at a very high level, as if they were exercising strenuously.

On the 14th day, the researchers did something they did not plan to do originally; they used the chamber’s intercom to see if they could provoke a response from any of the prisoners. They said that they would be opening the chamber in order to test the microphones and that the prisoners needed to move away from the doors and lay on the floor. If they didn’t comply, they would be shot. However, if everyone complied; they would earn their immediate freedom.

Shocking Revelation!

Much to the researchers’ surprise, there was a reply from one of the prisoners saying that they no longer wanted to be set free.

The researchers opened the chamber on the 15 day and found that one of the prisoners had died and the other four were in extremely poor shape with large sections of skin and muscle torn away from their bodies. The bones of their finger tips were exposed and abdominal organs below the ribcages of all four prisoners had been removed. While the men’s heart, lungs and diaphragms were still in place, most of the skin and muscles attached to their ribs had been ripped off, exposing the lungs. The digestive tracts of all four seemed to be working but the researchers said that what the prisoners had been digesting was their own flesh that they had ripped off and eaten.

The Truth about Sleep Deprivation and Insomnia

Sleep Deprivation EffectsAlthough this tale of a purported Russian Sleep Experiment is entirely false, it does make the disturbing point that sleep deprivation is definitely bad for you. Although you will probably not start screaming at the top of your lungs or eating your own flesh when you can’t sleep, you will become groggy, sluggish and a bit unfocused. You will also become overly emotional, somewhat clumsier than usual and quite hungry. Happily, most of the time, if you simply lay down for a good night’s sleep, all of these problems will go away.

Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. But when we get less than 6 hours of sleep, problems begin to occur, although not nearly as severe as those in the Russian experiment.

The right amount of sleep that a person needs varies.
Studies have shown that 7 to 9 hours of sleep is generally accepted as the right amount of sleep per night.
A small group (1 to 3 percent) of the population are among the “sleepless elite” who are able to get by happily on just a few hours of sleep.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

Donald Trump, chairman of The Trump Organization

Jay Leno, host of ‘The Tonight Show’

One or two nights of not quite enough sleep will not put you at serious risk. However, a week of deprivation may create problems with your heart, obesity and even genetic changes that could have serious consequences.

1347654675820Some of the frightening effects of real sleep deprivation include the following:

  • Heart damage
  • A severe risk of stroke
  • An increase in obesity
  • An elevated risk of diabetes
  • Memory loss
  • Higher Diabetes Risk
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Damaged bone structure

The stress and strain of getting too little sleep can also tell your body that it needs to produce more of the hormones and chemicals that can lead to heart disease. Some researchers today are even suggesting that sleep deprivation should be considered as serious a problem as alcohol consumption.

Play it safe. Don’t take chances with your health. Be sure to get the recommended amount of sleep every single night. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Infographic: 43 Facts About Sleep That Will Leave You Sleepless!

It’s been a while since we did an infographic, but our design team is now on fire, so you should be seeing many more of these in the coming days.

Please do support us on Social Media and let’s get the Sprayable Sleep phenomenon to go around the globe.

Sleep deprivation must die!

Enjoy!

43 Things Infographic

 

Also see the video (with voice) here: http://sprayablesleep.com/43-amazing-facts-about-sleep-and-sleep-deprivation/

What You Did Last Night in Bed and What it Means for Your Brain

what-you-did-last-night-in-bed-and-what-it-means-for-your-brain

Did you just try to microwave your glasses because you’re still in your early morning fog?  If you are like 70% of Americans today, you are not sleeping enough and it’s affecting not only your body but your brain as well.  Before you reach for that morning cup of coffee, you might want to reconsider your habit of late nights.

Even though scientists have yet to determine why we need sleep, experts agree that most people need between 6-8 hours of sleep.  Yet most of us are not getting it.

We all know sleep is important.  Not enough sleep can make you gain weight, gives you bags under your eyes  and even increases your risk for injury and disease.  But did you know that sleep deprivation can actually shrink your brain and make you hallucinate?

If that’s not enough, inadequate sleep can have other profound deleterious effects on your brain that you will want to consider:

Attention Lapses

attention-lapses

While it’s normal to lose focus here and there (i.e. Calc 101), for people who don’t get enough sleep, the effect is compounded to a new level.  Rather than just tuning out when we are bored, the visual sensory processing of the sleep-deprived actually deteriorates, meaning they literally start to see and sense the world through a haze. No need for illicit drugs, folks!

Hallucinations

Speaking of illicit drugs, lack of sleep can actually cause similar effects.  When you get enough sleep, your brain is able to filter noises, smells and other stimuli for what’s important from what’s not to prevent you from experiencing sensory overload.  However, tiredness undermines this ability and those who pull all-nighters can actually start to see things that aren’t there.  Purple unicorns!

Loss of Conversational Fluency

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Who needs wit when you’ve got stunning good looks, and we know you’ve maxed out on that department. Regardless, you might want to know that lack of sleep affects your ability to carry on even basic conversation.  Cognitive processes such as divergent thinking, which allows you to follow different topics in a conversation easily, are impaired by not enough sleep.

Even a gorgeous ditz is still a ditz, so if you want that second date to ever materialize, you had better get caught up on some sacktime.  And no, not that kind of sacktime…

Memory Loss

memory-loss

The neurons in your brain—namely in your hippocampus, which is the region in your brain primarily responsible for memory—fire in a distinct pattern when you learn something new while you’re awake and repeats this pattern duringyour sleep.  This neural replay ingrains the newly-encoded information so that you retain it for later, according to scientists.

When you don’t sleep enough, your brain doesn’t get a chance to lodge these memories in your long-term memory.  While there are some things in life you would rather forget, it ain’t healthy.  Go on and press that snooze button!

Misremembering

misremembering

On the subject of memory, if you are a cop looking for eyewitnesses, you had better skip over the one with the raccoon eyes.  The hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe function differently when the brain is running on less than adequate sleep.  This causes an improper encoding of your memories even as you make them while you are awake.

A study has shown that people after missing just one night of sleep are more likely to add misinformation into their memory of an event.  Was that car really red, Holmes?

Brain Shrinkage

brain-shrinkage

Alarmingly, studies show people sleeping less than 6.8 hours actually show a change in brain volume, as in their brain shrinks, particularly in regions responsible for problem solving and memory. Adults in a study who had trouble sleeping but otherwise healthy exhibited cerebral shrinkage, namely in the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes.

Remember when your brother teased you saying you had a peanut for a brain?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t sleep enough like your mother told you to.

Temper Temper

temper-temper

Don’t blame it on that time of the month.  Emotional volatility may be a problem of an interruption between your amygdala—your fight-or-flight response—and your medial prefontal cortex—your emotional regulator (read: your signal to take a chill pill).

You can see on an FMRI that there is a disconnect between these two brain regions, which otherwise communicate regularly to maintain your emotional state, when sleep doesn’t happen. As a result, we are more likely to misinterpret people’s facial expressions, pick fights and focus on the negative.

Impaired Language Processing

Say what? If you had to reread that title, chances are your brain needs more time in dreamland.  Lack of sleep impairs your ability to understand and produce both speech and written language.  The culprit is your temporal lobe, which is needed for the job of processing language and is highly active in those but remains inactive without those crucial z’s. If you don’t want to sound like a drunk slurring your speech, activate that temporal lobe again by getting some more shuteye.

Muffin Top

You may agree with Elaine Benes on baked muffin tops, but when we’re talking about the well-padded middle where you wish that six-pack was, most people would rather do without.  What you may not realize, however, is that not sleeping enough can actually counteract all your hard-fought hours at the gym.

A brain starved on sleep shows reduced activity in the frontal lobe, responsible for decision-making, and increased activity in the amygdala, the desire region, particularly for all things fatty and sweet.  And since we aren’t cavemen anymore needing all that energy to survive, dulled judgment and increased desire means more calories to add to your tummy.

Not only that, but your satiety regulators, ghrelin and leptin, are thrown off and lead to unhealthy cravings.  Resist as you may, your sleep-deprived brain will have you inhaling that French-fry encased hot dog on a stick faster than you can say diabetes.

Risky Business

You might want to add this to your list of getting rich tips: a good nap.  Studies show that in people making economic decisions on a lack of sleep, the anterior insula—associated with punishment and aversion—decreases in activity, while the reward center in the brain’s prefrontal cortex is active.

In other words, they expect to win and make money while also not caring as much about losing money.  Not a good combo!  Now if only you can convince your boss that a mid-morning siesta is just the thing to help your company increase its profits.

Brain Damage

When you skip a night of sleep, you actually kill brain cells in your brain stem.  Those with sleep apnea or poor sleep quality show progressive brain damage in sleep studies.  This may be due to a weaker brain blood flow, cutting off oxygen supply to to the brainstem.  Unfortunately, catching up on sleep in this case isn’t the solution, as the damage may be irreversible.  If only you could tell that to your college self cramming all night for exams.

Your brain does so much more than just give you your intelligence.  Your personality, your memories, your body’s ability to regulate and stay healthy, and more are all functions of your brain.  Some would argue that it is the most important organ in your body.

Considering the harm that insufficient sleep has on this vital organ, the epidemic of the 70 million sleep-starved individuals in America cannot be ignored.   Sleep needs to be a priority even when work and other obligations threaten to steal those precious hours.  Good sleeping habits need to be taught to our children even as we teach them good manners and good study habits.

For those suffering from insomnia, it may be worth considering natural sleeping aids or other cures for insomnia.  Burning the midnight oil is never a good idea.  Do your brain a favor and turn out the lights early tonight!