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Where am I on the sleepiness scale?

How often we find ourselves not realizing how sleepy we really are. I read this neat Wall Street Journal article that explains how researchers are searching for biomarkers that will allow us to test sleepiness levels. There’s a couple pretty cool things out there already, but they rely on external indications, like the Optalert sunglasses that warn trucking companies when one of their drivers is blinking with slower-than-normal eyelid closure speed and is getting too tired to drive safely.

Just imagine if they had an easy test, like the keychain breathalyzer, that would measure sleepiness levels instantly. That could help me decide whether I can make it through a repeat viewing of LOTR before bedtime or if I’d be better off catching up on an episode of 30 Rock. And when I have kids, and they want to stay up late claiming they aren’t tired, I’ll have proof that they’re wrong (of course, my kids will have profound respect for scientific proof and go brush their teeth without a fuss).

Of course, this has practical applications for hardworking Nerd Girl students when faced with the constant question of whether to stay up late finishing an assignment or wake up in the morning to do it. When it comes to doing homework while in denial of my sleepiness level, I’ve been there, done that. True story: I was once doing a calculus assignment in the middle of the night. What I turned in involved a problem that looked something like this:

I still got the right answer. Guess my dreams were telling me: “giraffe = 1”

We want to hear from you! Have any hilarious sleep-deprived stories to share? What are your thoughts about using biomarkers or other methods to assess sleepiness?

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