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How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

sleep deprivation

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19 replies to this topic

#1 The Immortalist

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:57 PM

Lets say you slept for 4 hours a day. How long would it take for you to get brain damage and then die?
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#2 anagram Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:Down to my shoulders in earth.. again!

Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:52 PM

I don't believe normal people get brain damage from doing such things, If anything you would likely see a really good antioxidant system in a person capable of doing that on a normal basis. Sleep deprivation actually increases NGF's and is very helpful for mildly depressed people. Sleep deprivation is good for lengthening life span, in moderation of course. People who inhibit they're natural antioxidant release mechanisms(via sleep deprivation, exercise) are healthier, from a physical standpoint...
Mentally it can cause mild psychosis by changing the NGF's regulatory system. I would not recommend sleeping such small hours, it can be a bit damaging over time, but the damage is typically transient, after a week of good rest you will likely show no signs of damage.
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#3 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 05 March 2013 - 03:18 PM

@anagram: chronic sleep deprivation is definitely not good, acute sleep deprivation (like once a week) may be beneficial, but not for everyone and always.
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#4 The Immortalist Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 01:29 AM

Apparently the record for sleep deprivation is 11 days held by Randy Gardener. He suffered no known physical or phychological affects after the experiment but he started having some episodes of hallucinating starting at the 4th day of the experiment. He also lost considerable performance in basic mental tasks, evidence being that on the last day he was unable to finish subtracting 7 starting from 100.

www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=world record for staying awake&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDEQFjAA&url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Gardner_(record_holder)&ei=PTw5Ucv-PILmqgG-r4GgCA&usg=AFQjCNF1VqxSD_uZ8AnOLUD37osQ-lzWzA&sig2=PfU2E4tLKu4Ryz6jQvWDdA&bvm=bv.43287494,d.aWM

Edited by The Immortalist, 08 March 2013 - 01:33 AM.

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#5 The Immortalist Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:00 PM

So if we don't actually need to sleep every single day to live then why is the desire to sleep so great that if you skip a day of sleep you feel like dying? At least it's like that for me.
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#6 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 09 March 2013 - 05:46 PM

Who said that we don't need to sleep?
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#7 james1589 Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:Canada

Posted 12 March 2013 - 06:15 AM

Can't seem to find it at the moment but I know that I read a study recently that showed a correlation ( being the key word) between shorter average sleeping hours and longevity. Proving causation is something else entirely.
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#8 Elus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:Interdimensional Space

Posted 12 March 2013 - 05:52 PM

You would accumulate sleep debt with only 4 hours of sleep per day, depending on how much you naturally sleep. The average person sleeps around 7-8 hours, I think. So you'd accumulate 3-4 hours of sleep debt per night. I don't think that would kill you, but you would function at a very low level.

However, not sleeping for a certain period of time can kill you. Chinese dude died this way: http://www.huffingto..._n_1631703.html

I read that one's immune system is severely compromised, which is a little strange to me because I didn't think the brain has much active control over what it does. This might be partially due to changes in gene expression from sleep deprivation: http://www.abc.net.a...26/3697827.htm.

They also did some studies showing that 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to .1% BAC, lol. http://life-engineer...-legally-drunk/

Also sleep deprivation can be a treatment for depression (Kind of funny considering all the other awful side effects): http://www.sciencedi...61923009002020. I know I feel great after a certain amount of sleep deprivation, but then I just crash.

I would jokingly say that I just need to get .1% BAC in order to mimic the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation.. too bad I don't drink. :P

Edited by Elus, 12 March 2013 - 05:59 PM.

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#9 anagram Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:Down to my shoulders in earth.. again!

Posted 12 March 2013 - 07:37 PM

A website that contained a index of many different life extension related studies(unfortunately I don't recall the name) described how sleep deprivation was implicated in sexual fucundancy and growth cycles, sleeping as if it was winter months shortened an animals lifespan while sleeping as if it were summer months lengthened it interestingly. I now try and get 5-6 hours of sleep instead of a dreary 7-8 however you really should decide your sleeping hours for yourself.
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#10 Tom_ Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:england

Posted 14 March 2013 - 11:23 PM

Dependent on the person. Randy Gander or what ever the guys name was at aged 17 or 18 I think it was went 11 days without sleep to no known ill effect. A DJ in his 40's? (could be 30's) went 8 days and was reported to have severe changes in personality, intellectual functioning and mild psychotic symptoms.

Sleep deprivation is not good for you. It may well be that people who sleep less have a genetic propensity to both live longer and need less sleep. To the best of my knowledge there is no studies linking deliberate sleep restriction and longevity. There are plenty of studies linking chronic sleep deprivation to diseases known to reduce life span.

For a normal person chronic sleep restriction to four hours a night would lead to depressive, anxious (maybe psychotic/manic), cardio, vascular and the list goes on of diseases.
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#11 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 15 March 2013 - 12:28 PM

We need to define what really is sleep deprivation. Epidemiological studies have shown (http://articles.cnn....sk?_s=PM:HEALTH) that people who sleep 6-7 hours a day live longer while people who sleep >9 or <5 hours a day have much higher mortality. Of course, we can't talk about cause and effect here. Optimal sleep duration is also probably very dependent on person - has there been any studies about connection with personal factors (personality, genes, biology, whatevers) and optimal sleep?

Quote from article: "There are a lot of reasons to get adequate sleep and mortality is only one outcome." said Rosenberg, "I would rather have five years of high quality life versus walking around like a zombie."

So, my question is: do people who sleep about 7 hours a day really have quality life, do they "walk around like a zombie" but still live longer? I know, that I don't feel ok if I sleep about 7 hours, my optimal sleep duration is about 8-9 hours, but I do feel terrible if I sleep more than 10 hours. Optimal sleep duration is also dependent on age, so 8-9 may be optimal for me now (age 22), disregarding study above, which has been done on adults.

Also, how to increase quality of sleep? I used to feel very refreshed in the morning when I'd been taking 5-HTP or magnesium (I don't take 5-HTP anymore and magnesium doesn't really affect my sleep anymore in such obvious manner).

Edited by hippocampus, 15 March 2013 - 12:36 PM.

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#12 **DEACTIVATED** Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 04:46 PM


On the subject of increasing quality sleep I've found that CBT for insomnia to be very helpful. Supplements are a short term solution, but I don't disagree with a little Serotonin based supplements or just straight Melatonin. Herbs aren't too bad either.

I believe better quality sleep can be achieved by not laying on your bed for any reason other than sleep and sex. Associating the bed with playing on FB or watching porn can could cause problems which could diminish sleep quality. Also sleeping in a cool, dark room is beneficial. Trying to leave all your worries at the bedroom door. If you can't sleep, simply get up out of bed and do something else because you could just not be ready for sleep, then come back 15-30 minutes later.

Personally I don't count how many hours of sleep I need or have gotten previous nights. Not that I don't think about it, I just don't take into consideration the time in which I should be asleep. I typically get about 6-8 hours of sleep and sometimes sleep 8-10 hours.

Edited by CrackaLackN, 19 March 2013 - 04:47 PM.

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#13 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:59 PM

I agree with you that CBT, meditation and relaxing techniques are good for sleep, but I find them useful just for falling asleep - but I don't feel any more refreshed in the morning if I'm relaxed when falling asleep. I forgot to mention that I also use blue light (which is used for light therapy for SAD) for waking up - and I feel more refreshed if I'm awaked by it - even if I sleep only 6 hours or less I feel better if light awakes me, but in this case it doesn't last very long, after 2 or 3 hours I'm like zombie again until late afternoon (when I'm usually awake no matter how long I have slept).
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#14 **DEACTIVATED** Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 09:32 PM


I am also never more refreshed one way or another in the mornings for any particular reason that I can narrow down. Some morning are leap out of bed mornings, others are snooze multiple times mornings. I tend to think it's just a frame of mind, but I cannot discount the side effects of certain supplements that might linger into the mornings.

Moving on, during CBT I read that some people have stronger awake cycles compared to their sleep cycles at certain times of the day. This means that your "wakeful" self could be off it's timing according to the times of the day. For example, one could have insomnia because their awake cycle is too strong at night. The idea is to rearrange the awake cycles to better match your active, waking hours and sleep cycles for..well sleep, haha. I never got to the chapter on strengthening the awake cycle, but I am confident I've created a strong sleep cycle for myself now (which is all I cared about anyway).

Another interesting tid-bit I read was that our actual sleep cycles (like Stage 1, Stage 2, REM, etc) make one full cycle in 90 minutes. This could be important to you because apparently if you wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle you're more prone to being disoriented, groggy, and just the typical "someone woke up on the wrong side" of the bed mornings. If this is true I think it's easy to get this effect when everyone typically assumes 8 hours of sleep is normal, but after only 8 hours of sleep you're waking up almost halfway through a sleep cycle. The idea would be to shoot for 7.5 hours or 9 in order to get 5 or 6 cycles.

I haven't tested it out extensively (I tend to be an anarchist when it comes to sleep lately), but there are now emerging apps that you can use to help you wake up at the right time of the mornings according to the 90 minutes idea. Also, I'm not aware of how the rest of your day is supposed to pan out after waking up at the right time, or if it's just in the waking hours.

edited for bad math

Edited by CrackaLackN, 19 March 2013 - 09:35 PM.

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#15 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:08 PM

I agree, but I somewhat doubt that cycles are exactly 90 minutes long for everybody - even if it varies for just 5 minutes it's hard to calculate when to wake in the morning. I don't know about the apps, but it would be really good if the app would recognize where in the cycle you are and then it would wake you at the end of one cycle.
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#16 **DEACTIVATED** Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:Undisclosed
  • no

Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:40 PM

Supposedly one of them monitors the movement in your bed.. So I guess your phone/whatever is supposed to be laid on the bed (instead of a nightstand) and it is supposed to know by your body movements if you're asleep or not and then starts timing to guess what stage you're in. Basically the phone has to be running the app all night. I said "supposed" to like a million times because I've never actually tried the app, just a bit skeptical about it actually. It's a pretty simple app and I don't think you can really count on it anyway.

The 90 minutes theory could be wrong, I've never even done real research on it, haha. But I thought it was interesting that there are now apps for that kind of application. It must be becoming popular because there are multiple apps out now that do it.

This website is basically a glorified calculator for the same purpose: http://sleepyti.me/

I just think it's interesting that it's at least somewhat popular.
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#17 forever freedom Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

Posted 21 March 2013 - 07:21 PM

E remember having created a topic about sleep several years ago, i searched for it but don't know where it went. (side question: has some past content from longecity forums been deleted?)

Anyways, the topic was based on this study, which tracked more than 1 million people for six years. It's titled "Sleep less, live longer?". Very interesting study: http://health.ucsd.e..._08_kripke.html

The conclusion:

"(...) But, he added “individuals who now average 6.5 hours of sleep a night, can be reassured that this is a safe amount of sleep. From a health standpoint, there is no reason to sleep longer.”

In it, we can see that the ideal amount of sleep per night for the average person is 7 hours, while those that sleep even just 6 or 5 hours per night still outlive those who sleep 8 hours per night, and far outlive those sleeping more than 8 hours. For women, even those sleeping just 4 hours a night outlive those having 8 hours or more.

Although very enlightening, it unfortunately hasn't answered the question of whether bad health causes people to sleep less or more than the average, or if sleeping less or more than the average harms our health.

Edited by forever freedom, 21 March 2013 - 07:21 PM.

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#18 hippocampus Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:medial temporal lobe, brain

Posted 23 March 2013 - 05:56 PM

Yes, I was talking about this study. But AFAIK, it was done on adults, so it doesn't tell us anything about the optimal sleep duration for younger (<25, like myself) (or maybe even older) people.
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#19 renfr Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:France
  • yes

Posted 02 April 2013 - 03:29 AM

Brain damage is a tough word, I wouldn't say that but yes sleep deprivation is detrimental in a normal healthy subject.
The problem with sleep deprivation is increased blood pressure, faster heart rate, weaker immune system.
Also sleep is needed for neurotransmitter balance so it could increase neurotransmitter up and downregulation.
Melatonin upregulation, dopamine downregulation, serotonin floods hence yawning, etc...
Some people have naturally more or less of certain neurotransmitters and that allows them to sleep less, orexin receptors are notably involved in the development of narcolepsy.
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#20 alecnevsky Re: How much sleep deprivation causes brain damage?

  • Location:US

Posted 05 April 2013 - 02:11 AM

I wonder how much of it also depends on your diet. (Protein-based e.g., Sweden Norway or carb-based e.g., U.S.) I'd like to see some data showing average sleep cycles between these countries and also Asian demographics that rely primarily on grain-based diets.
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