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Scroll over the interactive of the brain to learn how each section plays a role in sleep.
Look, we’re college students. Functioning on little to no sleep is practically hardwired into our bodies by now: Maybe you’re the master of looking engaged in class when you can’t keep your eyes open, or the cashier at Norbucks knows your name before you’ve even placed your order. But no matter how good you may have become at fitting power naps into your schedule, there is one thing that can throw off your whole rhythm – the daunting experience that is Dance Marathon.
Let’s consider a dancer who wakes up at 8 a.m. to go to class Friday morning: By the time DM starts, they’ve already been awake for 11 hours. By the end of DM at 1 a.m. on Sunday, this student has stayed awake for a whopping 41 hours, and it could be at least another hour before they go to bed. The truth is, sleep is important – it strengthens your immune system, improves concentration and bolsters overall health. While you’re asleep, your body replaces cells and flushes out toxins. If you go without sleep, it won’t be long before you experience some negative effects.
What happens to you after not sleeping for 24 hours? Not sleeping for prolonged periods of time has been shown to produce effects similar to having a BAC of 0.1 percent. Staying awake for 24 hours can negatively impact your hand-eye coordination and decision-making. At this point, you might also have difficulty remembering things.
Staying awake for 36 hours can have even worse effects. You may have trouble remembering faces, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase and your ability to remember words may suffer.
If you can somehow make it to 48 hours without sleep, you’re really in for it. Your body actually suffers a decrease in white blood cell count, making you more susceptible to illnesses with your lowered ability to fight diseases. Your body and mind also experience higher stress levels. Even your reaction time will be affected, which can be quite dangerous.
With all these negative effects, is dancing for 30 hours good for your body? In general, exercising after a night of little sleep is not recommended. You’re at a greater risk of injuring yourself because your reaction times slow down. Cortisol, a hormone, also increases when you’re tired, and higher levels of cortisol inhibits proper repair of muscle tissues and tissue growth. Although sacrificing sleep for a workout might seem like a good idea, less than seven hours of sleep a night can increase the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.
But hey, DM is for the kids! For a cause like this, it might just be worth dancing for 30 hours. Just make sure to get some sleep once you leave the tent!