"Abysmally poor judges of their true incapacitation from sleep loss"
December 3, 2013 6:30 PM   Subscribe

This reminds me of the report of the South Korean education system I heard on the radio this morning. According to the piece, it's normal for a South Korean high school student to come home from a cram school well after midnight, sleep from 2 to 6:30, then get up for another day of studying.
Mental affects aside, I don't see how most people would be very effective students after a couple weeks of that schedule.
posted by Bromius at 6:37 PM on December 3, 2013

Horribly relevant--which may be why you posted: reports now say that the engineer on the fatal Metro North Hudson Line run was literally falling asleep at the wheel or as he put it, "consciously asleep."
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was working a show tonight on not much sleep and found myself checking and rechecking my cue list just to make sure. I was fine, but just knowing I'm sleep-deprived sucks. It makes me anxious because not only am I more liable to make a mistake, I'm also more liable to miss a mistake I've made.
posted by nevercalm at 6:43 PM on December 3, 2013

Funny, I just read this:

...Danish City Sends Social Workers to Wake Up Students at Home

And thought to myself "Gor, those Danes...not only do they have a better life/work balance and more happiness, they get so much sleep and have so much of a better social safety net that they have govt workers just to wake them up!"
posted by nevercalm at 6:52 PM on December 3, 2013

.. found myself checking and rechecking.. It makes me anxious ..I more liable to make a mistake, I'm also more liable to miss a mistake I've made.

posted by mediocre at 6:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd trade half of my lunch hour for a culturally-accepted, government mandated half hour mid-afternoon nap. Heck, 15-20 minutes would be sufficient.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]

I can hear the Teahadis railing about the government forcing them to eat broccoli and take naps.
posted by XMLicious at 8:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I understand this article is based more on the people who don't get enough sleep - but keep in mind some people who fall asleep/pass out while at work/at restaurants, etc. could have a medical problem.

After driving off I-95, falling asleep during meetings, getting suspended throughout high school and my first and second job - I eventually found a doctor who took my drowsiness seriously. After tests and relating my other symptoms, was diagnosed with narcolepsy and began treatment.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

That pullquote was what immediately leapt out at me, too, Ivoshandor, and it really tallies with my experience of sleep dep when we had our newborn.

After a while, you're just so tired all the time you stop noticing. But you're still deprived.
posted by smoke at 8:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Honestly though they're going to have to overcome the inherent masochism of American society where you're considered some kind of wuss if you want/need 8 or more hours of sleep.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

Up reading metafilter instead of sleeping because my mind is too busy to sleep. Now I'm worrying about the effects of my inevitable drowsiness...and that will keep me up even longer.
posted by kitarra at 9:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'd read the article and have a pithy comment if I wasn't so sleep deprived and drowsy.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:43 PM on December 3, 2013

And with that, I'm turning off all the glowing rectangles and going to bed with a book.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:01 PM on December 3, 2013

One of the nastier combinations is that when you're depressed, you find it hard to fall asleep. Yet lack of sleep is one of the contributors to depression, so it becomes somewhat of a vicious cycle where a solid night's sleep is both an unobtainable desperately desired boon and an enemy that sucks away at that small amount of time you have left where you're not working, eating or otherwise doing the sheer maintenance work of staying alive.

I'm definitely a type-2; 5-6 hours sleep a night leaves me very groggy first thing in the morning, but with sufficient caffeine and daylight, I'm functional again by mid-morning. Getting ready and actual going to work consumes a lot of effort, so I end up taking a while to get rolling - so to make it on time, I have to get up even earlier to get through waking up... and I'd end up compensating by taking a nap in the early evening. Or rather, I'd fall unconscious within minutes of getting home after a (10 hour plus commute) shift for an hour. Which left me with hardly any time where I was awake and not working or preparing to work, which just left me a shattered walking wreck, on top of the stress of the job itself. Worse, it made it even harder to actually fall asleep at bedtime as I was wide awake at that point.

After several years of 6 hours or less, I thought I was coping ok with it. It wasn't until I got a week of 8 hours a night through medication that I realised what I was missing, and what it was doing to me.

It's still a struggle. There's never enough time, ever. And though I still fail regularly (6 hours last night, 7 the night before) and definitely will be paying for it this morning, I do work on getting a decent night's sleep, especially at weekends. It's not a luxury, but a necessity. Even if it does feel that your life entirely revolves around work, sleeping and eating, and you're lying in bed waiting for sleep that will. not. come.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

I kept yawning and feeling tired while reading the article. Oh yeah, less than 6 hours' sleep last night. That would do it.

I swear my circadian rhythms are backwards. Even if I'm just barely crawling through the day, so tired I'm "wake-sleeping" in meetings, when I get home I start to perk up and then get my second wind. Just makes the whole vicious cycle thing worse.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:14 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I understand how important sleep is to me. I am a first year teacher with an overload of courses and I find I'm constantly overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do. I'd much rather go to sleep early and delay grading if it means I will be fully present during the next day's class. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well, and I feel guilty for delaying things like grading, but at least I know and appreciate that I'm useless if I don't sleep. Anything under 8 hours isn't quite enough for me.

I can tell that I didn't get enough sleep if I end up misspeaking over and over. If I'm tired, I can't get a coherent thought out, and how can I teach like that?

I hope that awareness of how important sleep is, and how much impairment can come from sleep deprivation, improves, and I have a wishful thought that maybe my students will get more sleep at night instead of in class.
posted by sarae at 1:59 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

reports now say that the engineer on the fatal Metro North Hudson Line run was literally falling asleep at the wheel or as he put it, "consciously asleep."

Also this week: Senator Roméo Dallaire in car crash on Parliament Hill; recent military suicides and looming anniversary of Rwandan genocide have left him unable to sleep
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:00 AM on December 4, 2013

As someone who had my first 8 hours-ish of night-time sleep in seemingly forerver last night, and is literally feeling like a different person, this is a timely and fascinating read. Thanks!
posted by Drexen at 4:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

"... that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in the interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid. In turn, convective fluxes of interstitial fluid increased the rate of β-amyloid clearance during sleep. Thus, the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of the enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system."

Basically, sleep clears the brain-poop. IMO, secondary possibility that loss of sleep could increase Alzheimer's Disease.
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:45 AM on December 4, 2013

As a lifetime insomniac, never ever underestimate a good nights sleep.
posted by Sphinx at 6:47 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

This article reminds me that I should get more ... what were we talking about again?
posted by walrus at 6:52 AM on December 4, 2013

As a late chronotype, the amount of sleep I get isn't as important as when I get it.

Unless I can find a job that will allow me to work outside of the standard 8-5 business day (very unlikely), I'm doomed to be perpetually tired and drowsy.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:30 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

The most productive I have ever been was when I would show up at the office by 3 in the afternoon, go home by midnight and go to sleep by 8 or 9 in the morning. 6 hours of sleep on my own schedule were better than the 8 hours I get now when I have to wake up at 6 a.m.

When I am galactic emperor, being non chronotypical will be a protected category.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 7:48 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

My work day has become incalculably better and more productive since I decided to take two tiny 15-20 minute naps per day (one at around 11, the other at 2). It sort of happened accidentally the first time but now I do it on purpose and it is the best thing. I just lock my office door and turn off the lights and everyone thinks I have gone out somewhere. NO SUCKERS IM NAPPIN
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

My work hours are long (though not all that long by US standards) and if I actually get enough sleep every night, the remaining time is short enough that it's really not worth the whole work-to-pay-rent-and-buy-food nonsense. The entire point of it all is those few hours I have to do things I want to do, and if I can't have enough of that, why bother? Internet access during the workday now that I've got a shitty office job does not make up for throwing my life away nine hours at a time (plus the commute! Which at least I can turn into useful-to-me time by taking the bus or biking.)
posted by asperity at 9:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by gottabefunky at 10:41 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

As someone with a new baby, I...
Oh, go away.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

As someone with an almost new baby... Sleep training for babies sounds like bullshit, but it works and is totally worth the effort, the condescending looks you get from other people, and if it is the worst psychological damage you ever inflict on your kid, then you are lucky.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 3:27 PM on December 4, 2013

Sleeps like a bit of a derail, and I would hesitate to draw conclusions about infant care from a sample size of one, Doroteo. Every baby is different.
posted by smoke at 3:37 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just to say that we had our kids in bed with us. I know it's controversial and all, but one of the side effects is just more sleep. My wife was working the evening shift during the early years, so I was minding the kids. Which often meant putting them both to bed at 7:30 or 8, and getting into bed with a 12 month old and talking to him till he fell asleep. But just as often I'd fall asleep too, and the whole experience was very relaxing. There are nights when you have a sick kid or they've got some reason to keep you up, but mostly all of us slept very well. And they're still pretty good sleepers.
posted by sneebler at 6:20 AM on December 5, 2013

HBR: "Real Men Go to Sleep"
posted by Apocryphon at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2013

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