Okay, so sleep deprivation can kill you before the apocalypse, too. It’s probably fair to say that sleep deprivation can kill you, period.
Right now, for many of us, not getting enough sleep may not be a big deal. There’s too much stuff to do, not enough hours in a day, yada yada; sleep is one of the first things to suffer. After all, there’s always the weekend to catch up, right?
But in the post apocalypse, “the weekend” won’t be an option. And sure, there will still be lots to do and probably not enough time to do them; only this time, those things you’ll need to do will actually be keeping you alive.
Think about it: if you’re assigned to a raiding party but you’ve only gotten three hours of sleep, you’re likely going to be sluggish. Your movements will be slower, your decision making will be slower, your reflexes will be dulled. Now, what if the people you’re raiding from object to being raided? (They probably will, you know.) To show you they object, the other group will probably come after you with the intention of smashing your face into the dry dusty earth (or possibly kill you; it’ll really depend on how violent the group is).
And if you’re the sluggish one, you’re going to be left behind. So while the rest of your raiding party has taken off, running like hell for the safety of your camp, your sluggish brain will still be processing the need to get the hell out of there. Which, of course, will mean that it’s your ass that gets kicked seven ways to whatever passes for Sunday in your post apoc world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that survivor groups do sleep-ins or anything. Obviously it’s going to be hard to get a lot of sleep in a world that’s totally gone to shit. Stuff will be happening. You will need to do things. You won’t have the luxury to sleep in or sleep for twelve hours.
Having said that, it’ll also be important to get more than three or four hours of sleep. You’ll need to actually get enough sleep–enough to be awake and alert during the day or night or whenever it is you need to be awake to do your survivor duties.
So keep that in mind when you plan out everyone’s duty rotations. Basically, it comes down to this: If you want your camp defended and stocked with food and supplies, make sure the people doing the defending and stocking are awake and alert when they’re defending and stocking. Which means they’re going to need to get enough sleep. (There may be other causes, of course, but if you cover the sleep thing, it might be easier to figure out what the problem actually is.)
And with that, I’m off to take a nap.