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Euruko Lightning Talk: Less Sleep, No Sleep, and What Happens to You


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I gave this 5-minute lightning talk about sleep at Euruko 2012 in Amsterdam. In the presentation, I show the effects of sleep deprivation (no sleep) and sleep restriction (less sleep), which are important and often undervalued topics for developers and other professionals whose jobs depend on creative thinking (and for everyone else, too!). The presentation also touches on several other interesting sleep-related topics that I hope to expand on in a longer version.

My sources are listed on the last slide -- check them out (they're interesting). If you know any additional interesting books or articles on sleep, any anecdotes about changes to your sleeping schedule, or find any errors in my presentation, let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Published in: Health & Medicine, Business
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Euruko Lightning Talk: Less Sleep, No Sleep, and What Happens to You

  1. 1. Less Sleep, No Sleep,and What Happens to You Alex Koppel - @arsduo
  2. 2. Introduction
  3. 3. Why talk about sleep?• Our job is to solve problems• Sleep controls how well we think [4]• We have a macho culture about sleep
  4. 4. How do we get themost out of ourselves?
  5. 5. sleep(0)• Sleep deprivation hurts your ability to think • “This deactivation is greatest in those brain areas sustaining higher cognitive performance and situational awareness.”• 25% mental decline / 24 hours awake• Probably no surprise to any of us Source: [3]
  6. 6. Sleep Restriction Or, less sleep, less brain
  7. 7. Sleep Needs• Most people need 7-8.5 hours sleep [4, 6]• Many dont get it • How many of us got a full night of sleep?• What happens then?
  8. 8. Less sleep, less brain• Sleep restriction reduces brain function • Surprise!• Proportional to how much sleep you skip• Cumulative effects over time
  9. 9. Question• Is sleeping 6 hours a night reasonable?
  10. 10. Responsiveness Test 0 hours sleep: errors rise quickly 1 tick = 2 days Source: [1]
  11. 11. Responsiveness Test 8 hours/night: effectively normal 1 tick = 2 days Source: [1]
  12. 12. Responsiveness Test 4 hours a night: in just one week, you’re in sleep-deprived territory 1 tick = 2 days Source: [1]
  13. 13. Responsiveness Test 6 hours a night: in the second week, you’re sunk 1 tick = 2 days Source: [1]
  14. 14. Same test, similar results Source: [2]
  15. 15. Whats it gotta do w/ coding?• Higher functions are affected too• More complex tests show similar trends• The normal learning process doesn’t happen Source: [1]
  16. 16. Question redux• Does 6 hours a night still seem reasonable?
  17. 17. Other Topics A too-quick overview
  18. 18. Recovery Sleep• Cant just recover over the weekend• Brain seems to responds to less sleep w/ long-term physiological adaptions [2, 4] • One study shows below baseline after 3 nights• Recovery sleep is physically different [4]
  19. 19. Chronotypes• Natural sleep rhythms vary significantly• "Social jet lag": always waking too early • Usually to meet societys timetable Source: [6]
  20. 20. Chronotype SpreadOnly ~33% naturally wake up before 8 AM!~45% wake up between 8 AM and 9:30 AM Source: [6]
  21. 21. Consequences• Are we handicapping ourselves? • Entrepreneurs tend to later sleep cycles [7]• When peoples work aligns with their cycles, they perform better [6] • Valid limits: in-person time is valuable too
  22. 22. Conclusion
  23. 23. What does this mean in practice?• No crunch mode• Get enough sleep!• Encourage your team to sleep
  24. 24. Be like him
  25. 25. Thanks! @arsduo @6Wunderkinder
  26. 26. Appendix
  27. 27. Caveats• Sleep needs vary between individuals • These are average numbers • But most of us are average sleepers!• Studies vary, but only so much• Many other factors affect sleep & the brain
  28. 28. PVT• Psychomotor vigilance test• Measures two things: • response time (ms) • lapses (response > 500ms)
  29. 29. Sources1. Van Dongen, H. P. a, Maislin, G., Mullington, J. M., & Dinges, D. F. (2003). The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 26(2), 117-26. Retrieved from Source:Van Dongen, etc., UPenn Study, 2003 [1]2. Belenky, G., Wesensten, N. J., Thorne, D. R., Thomas, M. L., Sing, H. C., Redmond, D. P., Russo, M. B., et al. (2003). Patterns of performance degradation and restoration during sleep restriction and subsequent recovery: a sleep dose-response study. Journal of Sleep Research, 12(1), 1-12. Retrieved from http:// Belenky, G. (1997). Sleep , Sleep Deprivation , and Human Performance in Continuous Operations, 1-13. Retrieved from Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(5), 553-567. Dove Medical Press. Retrieved from http:// Robinson, E. (2005). Why Crunch Mode Doesn’t Work: 6 Lessons. IGDA Retrieved Feb, 1-6. Retrieved from Roenneberg, Till. Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why Youre so Tired. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2012. Print.7. Popova, M. (2012). Internal Time : The Science of Chronotypes , Social Jet Lag , and Why You’re So Tired. Retrieved from