Sleep Deprivation Has Been Around Since the Dawn of Time

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In 16th century Scotland, it was used to test and torture accused witches. It was a popular form of confession-eliciting torture called waking the witch. After staying awake for days, their hallucinations caused them to spin false tales of flying and shapeshifting into animals.

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Marie de Manaceine, a Russian scientist, experimented with sleep deprivation on puppies in 1894. The puppies were deprived between four and five days of sleep. Unexpectedly, after the experiment, all the puppies died. Sleep deprivation was a legal and standard practice of US military torture until 2009. A common method is to use a heretic’s fork, such as the one pictured above. These are not the only things that can cause sleep deprivation, however. (Mann).

Many sleep disorders can cause sleep deprivation. In fact, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are both very general terms. Sleep disorders can refer to any condition that affects one’s quality and/or quantity of sleep; sleep deprivation refers to a state where one doesn’t get enough sleep or don’t get enough quality sleep. There are many symptoms of sleep disorders that are easily spotted, whether it is in oneself or others. Some of these symptoms include irritability during the day, difficulty staying awake, feeling tired while driving, difficulty concentrating, slow reactions, difficulty controlling emotions, and more. The more symptoms one has, the more likely they are to have a sleep disorder. Some common sleep disorders that may lead to sleep deprivation include insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome. (Smith, et al.).

The National Sleep Foundation has a recommendation for sleep durations depending on one’s age. A chart is shown above with the following information. Newborns are recommended to sleep for 14-17 hours daily. Infants should sleep for 12-15 hours daily. Toddlers should sleep for 11-14 hours daily. Preschoolers should sleep for 10-13 hours daily. School-age children should sleep for 9-11 hours daily. Teenagers should sleep for 8-10 hours daily. Adults should sleep for 7-9 hours daily, and adults over 65 years old should sleep between seven and eight hours a day.

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