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Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation of normal sleep for extended periods through the use of stress positions, sensory overload, or other techniques may have profound psychological consequences. It causes significant cognitive impairments including deficits in memory, learning, logical reasoning, complex verbal processing, and decision-making; sleep appears to play an important role in processes such as memory and insight formation. Sleep deprivation may also result in decreases in psychomotor performance as well as alterations in mood. In recent years, a growing body of research has emerged that point to the complex and bidirectional relationships between sleep disturbance and psychiatric disorders. For example, evidence suggests that sleep disturbance is not only a symptom of major depression, but it also independently affects the clinical outcome and the course of the disorder. Moreover, sleep disturbance seems to be associated with an independent increase in the risk of suicidal ideation and actions.

Even sleep restriction of four hours per night for less than a week can result in physical harm, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, altered glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Sleep deprivation can impair immune function and result in increased risk of infectious diseases. Further, chronic pain syndromes are associated with alterations in sleep continuity and sleep patterns.

The UN Committee against Torture has noted that sleep deprivation used to extract confessions from suspects is impermissible,[1] and that “sleep deprivation for prolonged periods” constitutes torture.[2]

The UN Committee against Torture has determined that “hooding under special conditions” constitutes both torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.[3] It noted that this finding would be “particularly evident” when hooding is used in combination with other coercive interrogation methods.[4]

[1] Broken Laws, Broken Lives pp. 104.

[2] Broken Laws, Broken Lives pp. 104.

[3] Broken Laws, Broken Lives pp. 102.

[4] Broken Laws, Broken Lives pp. 102.