They essentially IGNORED the really BIG story...

Jeff Bone jbone@jump.net
Mon, 03 Dec 2001 21:51:05 -0600


Reza B'Far wrote:

> I looked at the study and they don't know what the long term effect is on
> the wear and tear on your body.

There may be animals that don't sleep, and there are certainly animals that
don't rest much:  consider sharks.  Sharks are "ram ventilators" --- they
breathe by forcing water over their gills, and must move in order to do so.
Shark locomotion is controlled in the spinal cord, and does not require
"conscious" intervention, so that leaves open the question of whether and how
they sleep.  Sharks do seem to rest;  individuals of some shark species have
been observed sitting still, but never for very long --- and even then, their
eyes track nearby organisms in the water.  We just don't know whether they
"sleep" or not.  Dolphins by comparison "sleep" in 2-3 minute catnaps, during
which they actually "shut down" one or the other brain hemisphere.  They can't
sleep for much longer than that because (unlike sharks) they are conscious
breathers, and must be awake in order to surface and breathe.

> If I don't sleep for two days, I might get by with a cat nap here and there,
> but my joints hurt, I can physically move about half (or worse) as fast as I
> do otherwise, and my strength goes to about half or less too.

But note that there's a difference between *sleep* and *rest.*  Some sleep
researchers think that sleep is actually an evolutionary anachronism --- a
fitness adaptation that kept diurnal animals still and hidden from nocturnal
predators, and vice versa.  While there are lots of physical processes that
require rest in order to "recharge," it's not clear that we actually need as
much (or any) actual sleep except as a kind of "reset" for certain neurochemical
processes that serve no obvious purpose for an uberpredator.

> I doubt that you can do this without side effects.  We are more than mental
> beings.  We're pretty physical.

When you consider sleep (lack or differences thereof) in other animal species,
it seems possible that if one we constructively interfere with the neurochemical
processes that cause the perception of sleep debt, we might be able to get by on
whatever amount of *physical* rest is actually needed to e.g. clear lactic acid
buildup in muscles, etc.

jb