New Year 2017. The police says: ‘the driver fell asleep’.

If there is only little  time to sleep you might think: I just stay awake. In a one hour’s sleep I would not rest.

Not a good idea, says Gerard Compaan professor of psychophysiology and sleep. Compaan will be the first to emphasize that we need our precious sleep. Not a few hours, but a decent eight hours. In this case, however, he does not look at the duration of sleep, but to that of keeping awake.

If you are awake for a long time, it may well go wrong.

Before the accident                                                      After the accident

It is better not to sleep or just a little?

“The body makes several hormone-like substances that influence the sleep-wake rhythm. One of the most important is adenosine. The longer you’re awake the higher are the adenosine levels. Adenosine is a so-called inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it can make people less sharp on all fronts. Thinking goes slower, reaction time is greatly reduced, you have to fight to stay awake, and focus is getting worse and so on. Lack of sleep with alcohol or drug use in combination with a miserable driver behavior is the cause of many deaths on the roads.

If you are awake for a long time, it may well go wrong. Not for nothing sleep deprivation is a proven torture method. “You cannot talk and move coordinatedly,  you start  hallucinating and at some point someone is literally falling asleep.” How long a man can sustain to stay awake is not exactly known; rats are known to drop dead after eight or nine days.

Don’t do so, stay awake a long time. Not even to learn for an exam. “The worst thing you can do.” “The longer you stay awake, the worse you are going to work after all.”

After two hours of sleep you’ve broken more than fifty percent of the adenosine

In the beginning of the sleep, the amount of adenosine is decreasing most rapidly.

So if you have only two or three hours time to sleep because your discount flight to Bangkok leaves at 3 o’clock at night, for example, in any case lie down, the expert advises. Preferably in the evening. In the case of a party or so: in advance. “For example, from eight to ten o’clock, you’re pretty at the right time of the circadian rhythm (24-hour clock.),” Compaan says. “In that first period of sleep you get in your deep sleep, then you break down the adenosine fastest. After two hours of sleep you’ve broken down more than fifty percent. “

Just set the alarm clock. And do not forget to set aside half an hour to shake off the drowsiness. If you don’t sleep, you’ll still just relax. So you will certainly rest. And if you are not sharp, there is a nice trick to lower the  adenosine levels for some time;  take a coffee. Caffeine encapsulates the receptors that adenosine wants to attach to. That’s pretty efficient.