What actually kills people who die from sleep deprivation?There is a genetic condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia where the sufferers actually experience brain damage that destroys their ability to fall asleep. Incurable, and very rare. Only about 40 families in the world are known to carry the genetic mutation linked to the disorder.
Much of this next part is paraphrased from http://sleepeducation.blogspot.com/
"Fatal familial insomnia is a prion disease, the same classification as mad cow disease. The genetic mutations cause abnormal proteins to build up in the brain, destroying nerve cells and leaving sponge-like holes.
It's a progressive disease. At first the symptoms resemble insomnia. Then it causes profuse sweating, accelerated breathing and heart rate and fever. Soon the sleep cycle breaks down, and the boundaries blur between wakefulness, REM sleep, and short-wave sleep. Death occurs after eight to 72 months, either due to a secondary infection or coma."
Google it and you will see many personal accounts and videos, including this one: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6822...
The most well-studied sleep-deprived population that I can think of is that of people with serious sleep apnea. Very often these people have varying degrees of cardiovascular disease including congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, and in particular high blood pressure that does not respond to diet, exercise, or medication. Often these people die of cardiac arrhythmia in their sleep. More often than not, the high blood pressure resolves completely once restful sleep is restored in the patient. At the same time, these patients are also often diagnosed with depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.
My take on the phenomenon is as follows: Sleep is when the body performs most of the significant repairs and maintenance on the various tissues. If you keep on not sleeping, you can think of the body as falling into various states of disrepair in various tissues, and the eventual cause of death will be determined based on which critical organ or life support system happens to give out first. It's a bit like driving a car and never maintaining it; eventually something will fail, but it can be hard to predict ahead of time which exact component will fail first and how long it might take.
Sleep deprivation is the single most effective form of prisoner interrogation. This has been known by the US military since the 1950s. It can be considered torture and can lead to death.
The US and British military have admitted using sleep deprivation on POWs. It can be assumed that all military and intelligence agencies do this . It can be assumed that the way they discovered the limits of this method is by prisoner fatality.
This is one of a series of areas in psychology in which there is massive research but the results are classified.
As far as sleep apnia, I saw a sleep doctor who suspected I might have it and recommended some incredibly complex medical device.
As a test of his diagnosis I rigged several video cameras to film me sleeping. What I have is 8 hours of a person who has no problem breathing at all, does not move about in their sleep, and has an expression like they just won the lottery.
Extrapolating on experiments on rats and what has emerged from investigations of POW abuse: dehydration, exhaustion, leading to heart arythmia and heart attack.
Long-term lack of sleep, the biggest risk is the risk of death in short time
People stay up for Long-term, rest is not good, biological clock was disrupted, increased heart rate variability, suffering from coronary heart disease, will increase the chance of high blood pressure . If you often stay up late to sleep late, then the plant nerve will be disorder, people prone to arrhythmia, or myocardial infarction. Due to long-term stay up late and lead to fatigue, the body is in a weak state, which is caused by acute myocardial infarction.
Lack of sleep will trigger a lot of serious problems, you will never know it will cause death occasionally .
I'm no scientist, so I really don't know what this stuff means, but read it and see for yourself:
This is in lab animals, mind you. Humans might be different, but probably not.
It sounds like what happens is that your body loses its ability to regulate itself. This affects several important processes. Without proper regulation, your metabolism, temperature control, some stuff with your blood and some enzyme stuff get all out of whack. And you die.