Sleep Deprivation and Animal Torture: Par for the Course for Our Culture

From this post about reality TV that exploits human fatigue and sleep deprivation, about how we don’t rest enough in general, and about how eventually capitalism will win the war on sleep and everyone will be up 24/7 until they die:

Too little sleep leaves you groggy and prickly; none at all eventually leaves you dead. Sleep researcher Alan Rechtschaffen and colleagues’ sleep-deprivation experiments on a rat confirmed this long held suspicion. In the 1960s Rechtschaffen and his researchers positioned the animal on a turntable measuring 46 centimeters in diameter and mounted on a spindle. Under the turntable they placed a shallow tray of water. Electrodes inserted in the rat’s brain connected to a computer that monitored its brainwaves for any sign of sleepiness. Each time the computer sensed the rat had grown groggy, it caused the turntable to rotate. This forced the rat to rouse itself lest it receive a dunking. After a sleepless week, the animal’s paws erupted in ulcers. Its fur became thin and matted, no matter how assiduously it groomed itself. Though the rat gorged on kibble, its body wasted. Its temperature fluctuated, and its immune function waned. Three weeks into the experiment, Rechtschaffen’s sleep-deprived rat died.

Say what you will about subjecting humans to days of sleeplessness, as the UK’s show Shattered did (“[contestant] Clare continued to stay awake until 6.10pm, easily winning the competition and £97,000. She endured 178 hours of sleep deprivation and attributed her success to tensing her feet until they hurt and preventing herself from urinating”), at least they can consent—and win cash prizes. Rechtshaffen’s rat was just simply tortured, to prove something so obvious that anyone could assume it would happen just by thinking about it for more than a second.

I hate our culture.


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