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Channel Fours sleep deprivation TV reality show -"shattered"


Shattered" was a TV reality show made by channel 4 in the United Kingdom. It explored many issues surrounding sleep deprivation in the context of a TV show with a big cash prize. The winner was the person who was best suited to withstanding tough Sleep deprivation tasks.

The cash prize was 100,000 pounds. The contestants had to work together to maintain the fund. Every time a contestant closed their eyes for ten seconds or more a thousand pounds was deducted from the prize fund. So the contestant’s worked as a team to maintain the prize fund.

One really surprising thing was that virtually no money was deducted from the prize fund. The contestants were extremely determined and disciplined. Personally I expected about 10,000 pounds or less to be left in the fund. But at one stage the prize fund even started to grow as the presenter of the TV show lost challenges against the contestants.

Special tasks were devised to challenge the contestants. For instance one contestant had to hold a every large Teddy bear whilst been read a pleasant bedtime story. Another contestant had to listen to an extremely boring lecture on their own.

One of the main features of the show was the attention to health and safety issues. Sleep deprivation is extremely dangerous and can even cause long term damage. The studio was built especially with health and safety in mind. Tables were built without hard edges. If contestant to fell over they would not be hurt by the specially designed furniture.

Still this did not stop people criticizing the show. Such was the concern over health and safety that contestants were allowed to sleep if one of them was suffering extreme health problems associated with sleep deprivation. One contestant for instance started hallucinating openly. So the doctors examined him and then allowed all the contestants to sleep for a few hours. This happened twice during the week long show.

What happens with sleep deprivation is that dreams start to burst into our waking life. That is why this contestant hallucinated. It can get to such a stage that the hallucinations cannot be distinguished from reality. This was considered too dangerous by the doctors.

The winner was a trainee policewoman. The final task was to lie awake for as long as possible whilst in bed. The woman cheated somewhat by drinking vast amounts of water. So physically she was kept awake by needing to go to the toilet.

Many contestants overcame the sleep deprivation with exercise. This seemed to take their mind off their tiredness. Indeed the stronger younger and fittest Contestants performed better. There was a distinct rhythm to the contestant’s performance. They seemed to hit a wall - and for hours they would struggle. Then they would start to wake up again and their concentration levels would improve vastly. The contestant’s helped each other to get through these periods.