A person spends a third of life in “nowhere”. Why do we sleep?

Work, friendship, sports, family, food, reading — in the day is clearly not enough time to for all time. To live a full life, many of us carve out precious hours from the time allotted for sleep. Borrow, the next day to pay double the price. A busy life leads to a dramatic reduction, if not abandonment of sleep. If the world existed a disease that deprives people of a third precious life, the search for a cure would be lavishly financed. It’s the Holy Grail of sleep researchers. Maybe they found the thread.

As with many others, it is difficult for us to give up our biological need for sleep from the cultural code. The practice of sleeping for eight hours on a soft, raised platform, alone or in pairs, is actually atypical for humans. Many traditional companies are sleeping and snatches, and social activity continues all night. Some Wake up when something interesting happens, and sometimes fall asleep in the middle of the conversation, to end the dispute. Sleep is universal, but comes to us all in different ways.

Different types also, apparently, sleeps differently. Herbivores sleep far less than carnivores — elephants for four hours, lions twenty — not least because they need more time to feed themselves and to protect. Being omnivorous, humans fall somewhere between these two dormant groups. Circadian rhythms, the body’s internal clock, allow us to anticipate daily cycle of wakefulness and regulate body functions in time so that they do not interfere with each other.

Our internal clock is based on chemical oscillation, the feedback loop at the cellular level, which lasts 24 hours hiding in a cluster of brain cells in our eyes (near optic nerve). Even deep in a cave without access to light or the hour our bodies keep internal schedule almost exactly 24 hours. In isolation, our body clocks will go slower. If the schedule of sleep and wakefulness do not update the light, we Wake up a few minutes late every day. This deep-rooted cycle can be found in every known multicellular organism, and the rotation of the Earth — corresponding to the cycles of day and night — have shaped it.

Human sleep comprises several 90-minute cycles of brain activity. From the waking man’s testimony electroencephalogram (EEG) is very complicated, but when it comes to sleep, brain waves slow down, pass through the first stage (relaxation), second (light sleep) and third (slow-wave deep sleep). After these recovery stages the brain goes through a phase of rapid eye movement, where the brain resembles the awake. Awakened in this stage remember that they dreamt.

One of the most valuable results of the work on the topic of sleep deprivation, the study revealed clear individual differences: some people perform better after sleepless nights, and some did not. The division is quite clear and, apparently, based on several genetic variants, which encode the receptors of neurotransmitters, opening the possibility in the future to adjust the dose of a stimulant for a certain genetic type.

In the beginning of this Millennium it has become evident that the biological imperative to sleep at least a third 24-hour period is excessive and unnecessary. Just like pills and condoms to control the birth rate, and other stimulants can rid us of the archaic heritage of the animal Kingdom.

Any remedy for sleepiness should be aimed at the prefrontal cortex. The Executive functions of the brain are particularly vulnerable to sleep deprivation, people who sleep less are more likely at risk and less likely to be able to accept new or creative solutions or to plan a course of action. Designer stimulants such as modafinil and armodafinil, “revitalize” these areas and effectively overcome the negative effects of sleep deprivation. For 60 hours awake 400 mg of modafinil every eight hours to restore reduced performance in all types of work, from the boring to the most complex.

Cool, Yes. However, this is roughly identical to the restorative effects of 20 mg dextroamphetamine, or 600 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of about six cups of coffee). Though caffeine has a shorter half-life and should be taken every four hours or so, he is everywhere and quite cheap.

That designer stimulants enable you to do a long and concentrated work, know of any College or University, drinking energy drinks during the session. A much more difficult challenge for the person sitting on the stimulants, it would be to teach my grandmother to use the phone. It is difficult enough to design a stimulator that will offer focus without the tunnel effect — that is, without loss of the ability to navigate the broad environment and adopt a socially determined decision. Irritability and impatience interfere with the team dynamic and social interactions, but such nuances are usually missed in studies of drugs. These problems have been largely ignored amid the enthusiasm for the development of drugs that reduce the need for sleep.

In 1996, the defence psychologist Martin Taylor called a few volunteers and gave everyone in the map. One of the two cards was the route. For those who have had a map with the route needed to describe it accurately to your partner, so that he could reproduce it on her map. Meanwhile, the scientists listened to their talks. In the control group of volunteers mark on the map was often presented as a question, for example: “I See the Park to the West of the roundabout?”. Volunteers also who have taken the stimulant modafinil, keep these feedback loops, instead relying on jerky and uncompromising instructions: “Go to the West of the roundabout, then turn left to Park.” Their dialogues were short and they gave less accurate map than the control volunteers. Moreover, modafinil has led to the fact that the subject overestimated his capabilities. He is not only worse coped with the task, but never noticed this.

One of the reasons for which stimulants were disappointing in reducing the need for sleep, is that we don’t understand why sleeping at all. More than a hundred years of research sleepy deprivation confirmed the obvious: sleep deprivation makes a person drowsy. It responds more slowly to external stimuli, process information more slowly, can’t focus, and the most important indicator is the tendency to quickly fall asleep when they lay down in a dark room. “Pass out”. Apparently, the main function of sleep is to maintain our wakefulness during the day.

Since the promoters are unable to become a biological substitute for sleep, the new slogan of the experimenters in the field of sleep is “effectiveness: reducing the number of hours of sleep needed for full functionality. The defense advanced research projects Agency DARPA leads to compress a full night’s sleep in a few hours. The soldiers on duty will be required to operate in accordance with their cognitive and physical skills without even needing 24-hour sleep cycle.

Nancy Wesensten, a psychologist at the Center for military psychiatry and neuroscience research Institute of the army Walter reed is looking for ways to have longer soldiers in working condition, trying to overcome the consequences of acute or chronic carotid deprivation. She claims that the dream person must be considered as an important resource as food or fuel. Working with the corps of the Navy, Wesensten not trying to create a super soldier that will never sleep. She’s not even trying to improve the performance of your soldiers – they are already elite. Everyone needs to sleep, at least sometimes. But the theater of military operations requires the soldiers were awake and ready as long as possible.

Although the army and the USAF have a long history of use of stimulants – that’s where invented modafinil and dextroamphetamine used for the 24-hour flight – Marines, as a rule, do not accept any pharmacological interventions. As Wesensten, Chris Berka from Advanced Brain Monitoring, one of the partners of DARPA research, said that wary of stimulants. “Sooner or later there is some stimulant seems to be working well and has attracted the interest, and then no more about it hear, because it has limitations and problems.”

Some failed mission, the air force drew attention to the danger of paranoia caused by the intake of amphetamine. In less than ten years after the ban of amphetamines by the air force in 1992, “mobile tablets” was quietly returned for the use of combat pilots during long missions in Afghanistan. On 17 April 2002, major Harry Schmidt, one of the best combat pilots, flying F-16 over Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers below him were conducting an operation, and controllers told Schmidt to refrain from the fire. However, the pilot, being “on pills”, and decided that his attack, pulled the trigger and killed four canadian soldiers. This incident led to a field trial, but the media has affected most of the pharmaceutical aspect.

Specifically for military personnel, ABM has developed a mask of “sleeping simulator” — Somneo Sleep Trainer – which uses one – or two-hour Windows for strategic sleep in a mobile environment for sleep. Cutting out ambient noise and visual distractions, the mask heats up the area around the eyes (I think that it helps people get to sleep). It also has blue light that is becoming brighter as it approaches, suppressing the sleep hormone melatonin and providing a restful awakening.

Perfect sleep contains several 60 – and 90-minute cycles, of slow-wave phase to the phase of the REM, but a 20 minute Siesta is dedicated to the early immersion in the second phase of sleep. In the second phase of sleep tired muscles recover faster, and vigilance comes back to normal.

For the Marines at camp Pendleton near San Diego four hours of sleep or less one of the harshest basic and advanced training. The character of the soldier is brought up on the sleep deprivation, night after night, however, goes against the other goals of the exercise. Fighters need to be able to safely handle the weapon and to memorize a lot of information. Researchers have demonstrated that the cumulative effect of chronic carotid deprivation has bad effects on learning and memory. Sleep deprivation destroys the sense of learning new skills, and the command recognizes that this is a problem. Not so easy to Wake a dozen tired soldiers in the middle of the night and teach them to distinguish friends from enemies.

Mask Somneo is just one of many attempts to keep the minds of the soldiers in clarity. Other initiatives include dietary supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids, like in fish oil, support the performance over 48 hours without sleep – improve attention and learning ability – and the Marines will get more of these nutritional supplements in the future. The only question is, whether a latch of the negative effects of sleep deprivation to act for a long time. Doctors warn that the years of the deficit of sleep makes us fat, weak and stupid. A growing list of illnesses also indicates a circadian disorders as the cause.

And the mask Somneo, and additives – in other words, darkness and diet – provide an opportunity to develop a “sleep hygiene,” or a set of actions to optimize healthy sleep. They can bring the effect of a truncated night’s rest before the expected norms – eight hours of a satisfied posypaniya. But the advocates of human improvement are dissatisfied with the norm. Some technomancy willing to go to great lengths to get rid of entirely the need to sleep.

Charles “Chip” Fisher, a businessman from new York, scored sitting in front of a bookcase, arms crossed. He is willing to submit its product to the Internet. On the polished dark wooden Desk in front of him is a device consisting of a power source supplies electric current to two spongy yellow spheres. To start recording instructional videos, Fisher dips a sponge in a glass of water and puts on the head just above the sideburns. The unit turns on and Fisher calmly looking into the camera, while pulses penetrate his skull, the prefrontal region of the cerebral cortex. His device approved by the FDA in 1991 – is very different from the “wonderful” products other manner that actually effectively treats insomnia and other problems. It also is at the forefront of the struggle with sleep.

Fisher is CEO of Fisher Wallace Laboratories of Madison Avenue in new York, and the industry of consumer electronics became his family home even with the advent of the vacuum tube, when the company his father launched into the market the Fisher Radio receivers. His speech includes all the details of the evening advertisements for Housewives, warranty money clips – all the emotional arguments that will convince the need to purchase even rationalists. Fisher acquired a patent for a device for transcranial stimulation, the brothers of Saul and Bernard Lissa, engineers-electrical engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of technology. He believes that the body is a collection of materials, some of which are better carried out, and some have resistance to electricity. “We need to break through bone and skull, and thus high frequency of 15 000 Hz. Combined with the 500 Hz and 15 Hz,” says Fisher. “It took 12 years to find these values. The body is exposed to frequencies from 0 to 40 Hz.” The search for a cure for insomnia – the largest and fastest growing market Fisher. If someone suffers from insomnia, he will try all the ways to sleep.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a promising technology in the treatment of sleep problems and improve cognitive skills. The alternating current injected in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex through the thinnest part of the skull, has beneficial effects as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), its predecessor. Also known as “shock therapy,” ECT has earned a bad reputation due to misuse of this treatment, however, remains strikingly effective in dealing with severe depression. We don’t really understand how it works, and even modern, soft and more targeted EST are only used in extreme cases when the medication does not help. Unlike ECT, tDCS uses a very weak charge, which is enough to excite the neurons, but enough to slightly change their polarization.

Electrodes placed on the skull above the hairline, level with the temples, creating the effect of a slight stinging sensation without any strange feelings. “We use that tingling feeling to create our paradigm of glamour,” says Andy McKinley from the laboratory of the U.S. air force. “The subject experiences only a few seconds of stimulation is enough to feel the cognitive effects, but enough to feel them on their skin.”. After a half-hour session of treatment it will be energetic, focused and cheerful. Training in visual search takes place in two times faster and subsequent sleep – if it does not occur immediately after a session is better consolidated, the awakening is faster, but the deep sleep lasts longer. To combat insomnia, this therapy used daily for two weeks. The mechanism may be anti-anxiety effects: patients taking Xanax or Valium describe their mood after tCDS as a variation of these drugs, but without fogging.

Negative effects therapy has on the brain not yet discovered, and the FDA has approved several devices (including stimulator, Fisher Wallace) for the unsupervised home use, but long term effects are still unknown. Neurologist Soroush Zagi and his team at Harvard medical school trying to figure out exactly how to do clinical trials. When they find out the potential dangers will be easier to find.

Using a slightly different technique – transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which stimulates the neurons neuroscientists from Duke University have been able to induce slow-wave oscillations, per second bursts of brain activity that we experience during deep sleep. Focusing on the Central area at the top of the head, the slow pulses reach the neural region, which generates non-REM sleep, and then spread throughout the brain. While the mask Somneo designed to send media to the mask in a light sleep faster, TMS devices might send us straight into deep sleep at the flick of a switch. Full control of our sleep cycles can maximize the time spent in slow-wave sleep and rapid eye movement, to improve physical and mental effects of sleep, while decreasing sleep time by half. Your four hours of sleep a stranger will be equal to eight. You could read a book a week.

The only question is, will the strangeness of this idea is a hindrance to its adoption. If society rejects the reduction of the dream, it becomes a biological problem; the resistance is purely cultural. War with sleep is inextricably linked to the debates on improving people, because eight hours of consolidated sleep is a categorical improvement of cognitive abilities. Drowsiness and loss of concentration create a huge market for pharmaceuticals that would have to deal with it. It is difficult to imagine what would happen if the body was restored not only during sleep. One of the reasons why we need sometimes to switch off is the greed of our visualization system as a sensory organ. Most of the information comes to us in the form of pictures. Glucose metabolism during sleep, as shown by fMRI, differs from glucose metabolism in the waking hours, the individual regions are activated in a particular condition, but not both. As soon as we close eyelids for sleep, releases a tremendous amount of energy. Just as aircraft need to land there to refuel, we need to sleep so our brains were ready for the next day. Radical reduction of sleep will require the equivalent of refueling on the fly.

Of course, any such attempt will face strong cultural resistance, and cries of, “what is natural is not ugly”. The perception of what is within the normal range, dictates what kind of increase a person’s performance is acceptable from a medical point of view, and what is waiting for the Board of ethics. I don’t care what these curves Bella has varied throughout history. Spit, we started to deal with insomnia exactly as long as the bulb of Ilyich has turned every cave in the may noon.

Our modern sleep habits have long ceased to be natural and very different from the sleep habits of our ancient ancestors. In the 1990’s, the psychiatrist Thomas Wehr of the National Institute of mental health in Maryland conducted an experiment on the topic of complex rhythms sleep schedule and natural lighting. Falling asleep at dusk and waking at dawn, the volunteers experienced some kind of antison in the middle of the night – a two-hour period of meditative calm, which jumped prolactin levels. And this is confirmed by the historical records from pre-industrial times: the first modern British households saw the “first sleep” and “second sleep” and the time in between was used for prayer or communication with family members.

Human improvement is currently pushed by military imperatives, at least in the United States, because civil society is more conservative in its approach. Dedicated units such as the office for the effectiveness of person the US air force, trying to make people better at what they are given from nature. Every hour of sleep takes hours of work, finding partners or raising children; if the dream no important adaptive functions, which could pay the cost of doing nothing, he could be “the greatest mistake the evolutionary process,” says Allan Rechtschaffen, sleep researcher at the University of Chicago.

If technologies like tDCS will be safe and widely available, they will pave an alternative path to longevity of man, prolonging our adult life expectancy by 50%. Many of us appreciate the time we spend in bed, but most of the dream, we spend unconscious – take them away, and you would not even notice. Well, what pill will you choose, red or blue?

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