Who Needs Sleep When We Have Coffee?

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It was a regular day when a woman was going to get her morning coffee. She pulled up into the drive thru and ordered her coffee, though she was appalled by the lack of response. She moved her car forward to complain about the service; however the people at the window said she had never ordered her coffee. As it so seems she was actually ordering her coffee from a trash can and had not talked to anyone. If this happened to her, could it happen to you?

Sleep? Is it actually needed?

Sleep is necessary, as we cannot function without it. Coffee and energy drinks are a nice short-term solution for fatigue, however they will not actually benefit your body in any way. When we sleep, our brain has time to get rest and transfer information into long-term memory.

Why Coffee Can’t Replace Sleep

Coffee is caffeinated so it will only keep you energized for a short time. In a study conducted in November of 2008, 61 people took place in an experiment where they were given coffee, a nap, or a placebo. “Naps vs. Coffee. Which Is a Better Choice for the Sleep-Deprived Musician?” outlines the effects of the experiment. The test showed us that people who drank the coffee were more alert at the beginning, but they did not have the energy to stay alert for long. The people who took the naps overall had better performance. They had better verbal memory and motor skills. The difference between the morning and afternoon tests showed significant differences between the placebo effect and the people who took the nap. The coffee drinkers showed no improvement in the afternoon session. It seems the coffee drinkers couldn’t improve, considering their brains did not have time to process the recently learned information. So overall the coffee drinkers did not have higher performance; they would perform without as much emotion and their motor memory was visibly worse.

Extreme Sleep Loss

Many different things happen to your body after having no sleep. It can differ from person to person.

In an article by WebMD, it’s stated your consciousness is impacted when you don’t sleep. This makes accidents more likely to happen. Simply driving to work turns into a major risk for everyone on the road. You will have delayed reaction time, which could cause you to crash into the car in front of you. Sleep loss can cause you to experience a lack of knowledge where the recollection of things happens at a slower rate.  Sleep is a vital part of the cognitive process of transferring information and recalling previously learned things.

WebMD also discusses how lack of sleep will age your skin. The stress hormone is released into the skin at a faster rate causing too many cortisols in your body. They start to decompose the collagen, the protein that keeps your skin smooth.


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24 Hours

At 24 hours without sleep your decision making and judgment are severely impacted. You now are at an equivalent of 0.10 percent on the blood alcohol level. Your hand eye coordination drops, along with your hearing. You are more likely to eat while you are sleep deprived. The portion size will most likely be bigger and filled with fattening food. Without proper rest, your immune system does not have time to replace the old blood cells. Your brain will start to lose brain cells resulting in what could be major problems down the line.

36 Hours

At 36 hours, recollection of things that just happened might become foggy. The feeling of dehydration will start to appear and it may be harder to become motivated. Inflammatory markers get into the bloodstream which can lead to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

48 Hours

At 48 hours, you may start to experience periods of time where the body will briefly shut down to take a microsleep. This is where the body will, in a sense, blackout while the person does not comprehend what is happening. These microsleeps can last anywhere between half a second and half a minute.

You may find yourself forgetting words you were about to say and it may be harder to pronounce them, so you might end up stumbling on words.

72 Hours

At 72 hours, it may be harder to concentrate on tasks, stay motivated, and your perception will be severely lowered. Simple tasks start to seem like hard jobs. Hallucinations may occur. Things may aggravate you faster and you won’t have the patience you normally do.

11-32 Days

You may experience signs of hallucination. Seventeen year old high school student, Randy Gardner, stayed up for 11 days without any sleep. On the last day, his doctor studied his behavior and found that his “hallucinations mimicked a 90-minute cycle of REM dream sleep.”  This meant he was starting to see things that weren’t actually there. He was slowly losing his grasp of reality.

A gentleman from China in the article, “Man Dies After Going 11 Days Without Sleep: What Are The Health Risks Of Sleep Deprivation?, given the fake name of Jiang Xiaoshan, was in relatively good health so he didn’t think anything of watching a soccer marathon. He had not been sleeping much in the nights before and “he drank and smoked during the soccer matches, triggering this condition.” He was awake for 11 days straight and on the last day, he was found dead in his living room.

A Way To Avoid These Effects

Sleep. There is no reason a person should feel the need to stay up for 11 days or more. The article “11 Surprising Health Benefits of Sleep states that sleep will help your body improve memory, reduce inflammation, increase creativity, improve grades, increase attention, maintain a healthy weight, lessen stress, have a lower risk of an accident and be less apt to become depressed. Coffee and energy drinks are not effective in the long run so they should not be used as an alternative to sleep.

How Sleep Benefits Your Body

In the article, “6 Ways A Good Night’s Sleep Can Change Your Life”, it talks about how sleep can have different effects on your everyday life. The first way is by having a positive attitude. When you get enough sleep needed for your body to rejuvenate you tend to be less stressed, resulting in an overall positive attitude. The next thing is the ability to lose weight. When you are sleep deprived your body produces a hormone that stimulates your cravings for unhealthy foods. Also, sleep will improve your overall cognitive state. It will be easier to understand information and recall previously learned information. Getting sleep is one of the best ways to stay healthy, as stated in the article “23 Incredible Benefits of Getting More Sleep. You will have energy you normally wouldn’t and will be able to work harder and longer.

As you can see by the passages above, sleep cannot be replaced by coffee, as sleep is vital for everyday life. Without sleep your body will not function correctly. You could find yourself not being able to complete everyday tasks with ease. This could result in some negative outcomes for you and others. So remember to get at least eight hours of sleep per night or over time you may start to experience some of these symptoms.

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One thought on “Who Needs Sleep When We Have Coffee?

  1. This is a great reminder that I really need to get more sleep each day and find a way to make it more of a priority! It is so easy to get busy and neglect getting to bed on time each night. Thank you for this great read!

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