That explains it

From a three-part New Yorker article about sleep disorders:
If you sleep six hours a night for twelve days, Adusumilli says—and that’s about how much many Americans sleep all year round—your cognitive and physical performance becomes virtually indistinguishable from that of someone who has been awake for twenty-four hours straight. (The same effect is produced by six days of four-hour nights.) And the performance of someone who has been awake for twenty-four hours straight is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.1 per cent. In other words, “normal” amounts of sleep deprivation have us acting like we’re drunk. (Charles Czeisler recalls presenting these facts to a Times journalist; when the journalist handed in the story, the editor said it couldn’t possibly be true. Most people in the newsroom were sleep-deprived, and they still managed to produce the Times every day. Surely an intoxicated newsroom would be incapable of such a feat.)
In my whole life, I've almost never used an alarm clock to wake up in the morning unless I had a plane to catch. It's one reason I don't like traveling.


Anonymous said...

One if the reasons I don't like summer is because I'm sleep deprived. I have to get up by at least 0500 in order to get outdoor work and exercise done before the sun gets too high, but trying to compensate by going to bed at eight or nine PM is almost impossible.


Eric Blair said...

People used to drink a lot more, too. The British officers posted to America at the start of the troubles in the 1760's were utterly amazed (and dismayed) at the cheapness and quantity of rum available. Some historians I've read speculate that the colonists were essentially drunk, at all times.

douglas said...

I have always liked my sleep, but having been on various sleep schedules for one reason or another, I'll question the idea that going three nights on six hours sleep a night makes you essentially drunk. Quality of sleep is a huge factor, so is waking up in-cycle vs. out-of-cycle (waking from the just unconscious state at the high point of the 45 minute sleep cycle, or waking from deep sleep at the bottom of the cycle). When possible, I try to set alarms so they coincide with a 45 minute interval from when I think I'll fall asleep.

I'm guessing that many of the colonists were drinking a lot of hard cider that wasn't that strong, and had worked up a fair tolerance to alcohol in any case, as you'd expect of someone who drinks consistently. The affects of alcohol aren't completely formulaic, and someone working hard and drinking and eating a lot more than we do may well not have the same effects from the alcohol as we would today with our workloads and diets.

Grim said...

Maybe the answer lies in the secrets of the Inebriati.