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Facts about Sleep and Sleep Deprivation

Cartoon counting sheep in bed

As law students we’re familiar with a lack of sleep. Last minute study, late assignments and midnight library sessions can take their toll, leaving us irritable and hallucinating on the train. Some recent late nights made me start thinking about my favourite hobby: sleep.

Believe it or not, a bit less study and a bit more sleep could make your marks better. Here are a few facts from the Internet-machine:

If you go without sleep for a long period of time, it could be fatal. It’s generally estimated that 10 days without sleep would send you to an early grave, although there are stories of a competitor in a rocking chair marathon going for almost 19 days without sleep. Paranoia and memory lapses were among his symptoms. The Guinness Book of World Records does not record it, probably because they don’t want to encourage anyone to try and beat it.

As a general rule, seven to eight hours of sleep each night is considered optimal for adults.

Adults aged 18 to 24 are most affected by sleep deprivation.

Koalas are one of the drowsiest animals, sleeping for between 18 and 22 hours a day.

In contrast, the sleeping patterns of giraffes are relatively similar to law students during exam time, getting less than five hours of sleep each day, often spread over multiple short naps.

Sleeping burns more calories than sitting in front of the TV.

A good night’s sleep works wonders for our problem solving skills, but 24 hours without sleep has a similar affect to being over the blood alcohol limit for driving.

If you feel like your short-term memory has been maxed-out, have a nap. Some researchers believe that deep sleep helps the brain to transfer information from the short-term memory to the long-term memory.

Ducks are apparently able to have only half their brain fall asleep while the other half remains awake. I know a few law students who would find this ability to study and sleep simultaneously to be very useful.

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