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Delanceyplace: Dreamland Adventures

"In the 1980s, researchers at the University of Chicago decided to find out what happens when an animal is deprived of sleep for a long period of time,'' writes David K Randall.

In but one of the many odd tests you will find in the history of sleep research, these scientists
forced rats to stay awake by placing them on a tiny platform suspended over cold
water. The platform was balanced so that it would remain level only if a rat kept
moving. If a rat fell asleep, it would tumble into the water and be forced to swim
back to safety (or drown, an option that the researchers seemed strangely blase
about).

"Fast-forward to two weeks later. All of the rats were dead. This confused the researchers,
though they had a few hints that something bad was going to happen. As the rats
went longer and longer without sleep, their bodies began to self-destruct. They
developed strange spots and festering sores that didn't heal, their fur started
to fall out in large clumps, and they lost weight no matter how much food they ate.
So the researchers decided to perform autopsies, and lo and behold they found nothing
wrong with the animals' organs that would lead them to fail-ing so suddenly. This
mystery gnawed at scientists so much that twenty years later, another team decided
to do the exact same experiment, but with better instruments.

This time, they thought,
they will find out what happens inside of a rat's body during sleep deprivation
that ultimately leads to its death. Again the rats stayed awake for more than two
weeks, and again they died after developing gnarly sores. But just like their peers
in Chicago years earlier, the research team could find no clear reason why the rats
were keeling over. The lack of sleep itself looked to be the killer. The best guess
was that staying awake for so long drained the animal's system and made it lose
the ability to regulate its body temperature.

Humans who are kept awake for too long start to show some of the same signs as
those hapless rats. ... Within the first twenty-four hours of sleep deprivation,
the blood pressure starts to increase. Not long afterward, the metabolism levels
go haywire, giving a person an uncontrollable craving for carbohydrates. The body
temperature drops and the immune system gets weaker. If this goes on for too long,
there is a good chance that the mind will turn against itself, making a person experience
visions and hear phantom sounds akin to a bad acid trip. At the same time, the ability
to make simple decisions or recall obvious facts drops off severely. It is a bizarre
downward spiral that is all the more peculiar because it can be stopped completely,
and all of its effects will vanish, simply by sleeping for a couple of hours.

Author: David K. Randall
Title: Dreamland Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Date: Copyright 2012 by David K. Randall
Pages: 20-22

If you wish to read further: Buy Now http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001G-_AXHnOFJ5UWQ9PnKMqUPQoBOigRMJ4sIUgYT4xKSpqlZGD500ND9muRR_d5E0dnwIidt-AMedlXpUFnBOZURVry92K1dHbsYwyiRH0lUMLbkgw4KlOfH6k_rV7Bm8bNSZJBOvVUi2Wd6xr1eWBuvmV2sen9IxuvzJ95kERCdE8k1gIqWfmDpx1pmU1PUPfqykLbTWuCjpR3jgmKi-O0__5xkcOiuta8mHyaJe_ECpFSaNjxgBhRE-YLnX30EzS3GD1lpPF9SU7zIw4PkrPaqhF3YAXhgxkn3eoKss6nXRoeo0BbK4_IdVVEl5w6OrgT7bVzsZHt1VEf155aRDkMqc7rw3jL5e7R2lK06ceR5FN7sd2gqmHVvD3WF2bo23j8kZCHiA2zrF1gC_S1TkrFchDQ0KAFJim

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to charity.

**

This extract is published in Open Writing courtesy of http://delanceyplace.com/index.php

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