What is the difference between sleep and unconciousness?

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Sat Feb 24 14:14:21 EST 2001

"The Deej" <thedeej at nospam.geocities.com> wrote in message
news:Xns9051C3CCFthedeej at
> I have looked all over the web for the answer to this question and have
> no luck in finding the answer. I am not a medical person, just a curious
> layman (woman)trying to realistically write a character for a piece of
> fiction.
> I am also wondering if someone had lost the ability to sleep, would
> anesthetics have an effect?

What you ask is really a very difficult question, going to the question
of what "consciousness" is.  Sleep, unconsciousness from a blow
on the head or fainting, and anesthetic unconsciousness are certainly
similar in the loss of awareness, but also clearly different in their
cause and their prognosis for recovery.

An excellent resource you should read is Antonio Damasio's book,
"The Feeling of What Happens, Body and Emotion in the Making
of Consciousness" (Harcourt Brace, 1999).  It is a neurologist's
(actually a very literate and skillful author's) attempt to discuss
the nature of consciousness.  In particular, he discusses the
notion of "Core Consciousness" in Chapter 3, discussing different
categories of its loss, including a variety of pathological conditions
as well as coma, anesthesia, and sleep.

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