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Best of Aaron Todd
The Effects of My Poker All-Nighter23 April 2006
A month ago, when I asked some friends if they would be interested in helping me play poker for 24 hours, one of them was in the middle of typing an e-mail to my wife.
At the end of his message, he decided to let her know about my plan. Seventeen seconds later my phone rang.
After some damage control, and after I told her I wasn't planning on attempting the feat in a casino, Wendy (who would like to be known as "The Poker Gal") warmed up to the idea. She's even letting me host the game in our living room and will be joining us for a few hours when we're shorthanded.
While my wife has generally been very supportive of the idea, she does have one concern: How will missing a whole night's sleep affect me after the game is over?
I have a very low tolerance for sleep deprivation. My mood, motivation, and attitude in general suffer terribly when I haven't slept enough. The Poker Gal understands this better than anyone. Since she's going to have to put up with me in the days following this little experiment, I understand her concern.
So I decided to do a little research to prepare for this endeavor. There have been a number of studies on sleep deprivation and they all come to a similar conclusion: Lack of sleep equals bad things.
Brain functions are altered when a person suffers from sleep deprivation. In a 2000 study published in Nature, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that regions of the brain that are most active while rested people do arithmetic problems were not nearly as active when sleep deprived subjects were asked to do the same problems.
Another study, published in 2000 by Occupational and Environmental Medicine, reports that sleep deprivation can be as hazardous as consuming alcohol. Subjects in the study who drove after being awake for 17-19 hours performed worse than subjects who had a blood alcohol level of .05 percent.
Perhaps the most disturbing study was a 2003 University of Pittsburgh study, which found that older adults who lay awake for long periods during the night have a diminished quality of life and double their risk of death.
Thankfully, I don't fit into the demographic of that study, as it was conducted on people over the age of 60. I don't mind messing up pot odds or making a boneheaded call, as long as I'm still breathing on Sunday afternoon.
Sources: "Altered brain response to verbal learning following sleep deprivation." Nature. Feb. 10, 2000. Vol. 403, Issue 6770, pgs. 655-657.
Dement, William. "Sleepless at
"Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication." Occupational and Environmental Medicine. October, 2000. Vol. 57, Number 10, pgs. 649-655.
"Poor Sleep Linked to Earlier Death in Older Adults." Science
In his previous life, Aaron Todd was a sports journalist by day and a poker player by night. He can now be found covering the poker beat for Casino City and making horrendously unsuccessful bluffs in his home game. Write to Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of Aaron Todd