A Sleep Experiment

So, this week, we decided to take an unfortunate situation and capitalize on it for the sake of a blog post. Typical. Last week, we performed a small sleep experiment a la the Russian Sleep Experiment that we aren’t completely convinced is just a myth. What did our results show? ~read more to find out~ oo spooky.

At 9am on Tuesday morning, Merilla woke up ready to face the day. She had a busy day ahead of her and a midterm the following day for which she had done minimal studying. Her and Rachel went through their typical Tuesday routines, hitting up Club Tisch later that night. Around midnight, Merilla realized that she wasn’t nearly prepared enough for her Ancient Greek and Roman Medicine midterm, so she decided to pull an all-nighter despite Wednesday being her busiest day, where she doesn’t finish class and extracurricular activities until 11:30 at night. She then thought of a brilliant idea that she relayed to Rachel.

Merilla: OK, hear me out. I have a great idea
Rachel: If it’s the type of idea that Jerry from Parks and Rec would have, I don’t want to know.
Merilla: What if I stayed up for as long as I could to try and hallucinate from sleep deprivation? And then we can write about it for the blog as if it’s an experiment?
Rachel: OK, cool, so I just sleep normally. That way, I’m the control and you’re the experiment. Yeah, I know science. Let’s do it.

So, Merilla stayed up for 40 hours straight without sleeping, which her mother yelled at her for doing later that week. Rachel continued her normal sleep cycle on Tuesday and Wednesday (10 hours a night plus a 2-hour nap midday). Merilla’s goal was to find out if there were legal ways to hallucinate. Here are our results:

Merilla, the experimental group, found that the more she went without sleep, the harder it was to form coherent sentences. She would use fragmented sentences that didn’t really make sense and expected everyone to understand where she was going. No one did. Rachel, the control group, found that sleeping normally actually helped with explaining complicated (and universally relevant) ideas like the development of Lola and Narcisse’s tumultuous relationship on the CW show Reign (ask her about it: she’s v passionate). Merilla also found that the lack of sleep meant that she couldn’t risk sitting down in a room with poor lighting because she needed blinding fluorescent lighting to keep her from falling asleep immediately. Rachel, on the other hand, could go in and out of rooms with both excellent lighting and poor lighting without a problem like a magician.

Physically, sleep deprivation comes with its own bodily sensations which, unfortunately for Merilla, did not include hallucinations. She felt very tense the entirety of Wednesday, specifically in her chest area and shoulders, which would have probably gotten worse had she stayed up longer. Rachel, having recovered from the a**-kicking workout that is Friday Tabata Bootcamp, felt pretty good, able to walk up and down the Hill with strength and grace (one of these may or may not actually be true). Emotionally, Merilla didn’t laugh as much as she usually did (even at her own jokes) because it was just too much effort. Rachel’s laugh, however, was as booming as ever, heard across the world.

So, what do these results mean? If we learned anything from taking Psych Stat together last year, the smaller the sample size, the better your results. Having only two people in your experiment is the perfect number for you to be able to take these results and generalize them to the whole world. Depriving yourself of sleep may make you feel as if most of your emotions (except for irritation) have been violently sucked out of you, but other than that, it’s pretty chill. The body aches remind you that you’re only human, and the hallucinations that are sure to come after you hit the two-day mark will make your life just that much more interesting. When it comes to having difficulty speaking in complete sentences, the socially awkward aesthetic is all the youth talk about nowadays. People will just think you get nervous when talking to people, and they’ll love it.

We’ve sent our experiment paper to Psychology Today, and should be hearing back in a few weeks as to whether they include our scientific paper in their next issue or not (we mean, why wouldn’t they?). For now, we leave you with a few tidbits of cautionary advice:

1. Don’t deprive yourself from sleeping unless absolutely necessary. Legimitate excuses include, but aren’t limited to, studying for exams, feeling a desperate need to watch the entirety of Gilmore Girls season 3 in one sitting, and needing to rank your favorite potato options.

2. Make sure to eat. We recommend a box (yes, an entire box. Their recommendation of 2.5 servings per box is a lie) of Annie’s Mac n’ Cheese whenever you’re feeling your energy falter. But make sure not to eat on your bed because you will definitely fall asleep.

3. Take frequent study breaks during which you splash cold water on your face, do one-armed burpees (ugh), or make yet another cup of coffee.

4. Listen to heavy metal rock on full blast the entire time.

5. Watch an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog to scare yourself into avoiding sleep.

Happy (not) sleeping!

Stay weird, y’all.


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