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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sleepless in Shapiro

Published: September 8, 2006
Section: Opinions

Well my long and tedious experiment is finally over. After hearing the argument that sleep is essential to life, and not only that – but getting MORE sleep would be even MORE beneficial, I decided to conduct my own sleep study. Since these arguments dont appear to be founded on proven scientific grounds, I took matters into my own hands – using myself as the traditional lab rat, of course.Everyone is convinced that sleep is important. You hear it from parents, doctors, and those “studies” people are always talking about. But how do you know that any of those studies are accurate anyway? I mean, look at the recent controversy over Vioxx! In studies, Vioxx was proved to be a good idea, but look what we know now.
Anyway, to conduct my study, I continually deprived myself of more and more of the traditionally recommended eight hours of sleep a night. I started at six hours a night, and gradually decreased that number. I found that there was really no difference in how much air I breathed, the amount of food I ate, the amount of money I spent, how much my fingernails grew, or the number of miles I drove in my car the next day.Coincidentally, I did find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. This is proof of the unrelated theory that my mattress is a new, and previously elusive, form of black hole. I was also late for class repeatedly – but there are probably numerous, psychological, even Freudian, explanations for that random factor.
The final test was completed this morning. Last night I engaged in vigorous and mentally stressful conversation until 4 or 5 am. Already “deprived” of sleep from the week before, I received a very impressive three hours of sleep that night. In the morning I awoke with just enough time to pull on pants and take a practice GRE Reasoning Test.This was it. If I could reason as well with three hours of sleep as I could with an average 8, then I obviously am a genius and have been right all along. Sleep is for the weak.
The beginning of the test was okay. The questions continually blurred and my mind wouldn't focus. Those were the result of a faulty test booklet made with ink that enabled the words to travel around the page. During a ten-minute break, I was able to grab an Oreo, my well-rounded breakfast.
When I finished, I scored the test. I read the results of the test and before I could compare them to my previous scores, I proceeded to shred the results, and eat every single shred. This was obviously a consequence of the less than adequate breakfast I had that morning. Hunger is a dangerous affliction if left untreated.
So, unfortunately, I still do not know if sleep TRULY is as “essential” as everyone seems to believe. All I know is that the air pressure is higher in this room than in anywhere else in Massachusetts, forcing my eyelids to close and to stop me from finishing thi