Staying awake...

Since I’m about to go to sleep I thought I’d leave this question to be answered.

Staying awake is unhealthy, I’m aware of this. I also have heard rumors, and this is all I heard, that the Indians, and I don’t know which tribes, would stay awake for long periods of time to experience a sort of hallucinogenic effect or a sense of being “high”.

I did this not long ago. I stayed awake in Vegas for approximately 4 and a half days going card room to card room playing poker. Keep in mind, poker requires constant decision making, so it keeps you on your toes. I played really well, one of my top 3 sessions, and my mood was stable, but of course I was tired, but aimed all of my energy to the game and staying awake. I then started to experience someone rather interesting once I got past day 4, maybe even dangerous. Normally when you look at something black, it’s black. Though, everything I look at that was black, and these are things I know were black, were actually blue, a darker blue.

I immediately went home and dropped into an instant sleep. Got many hours of rest and everything seemed normal. No side effects or anything since.

What are the dangers of sleep deprivation? And why was I seeing blue instead of black?

From my understanding no human has ever died directly from lack of sleep. Lab mice have been killed after something like 11 days of being awake. But they were being awake with drugs. I doubt a human would be able to stay awake long enough to kill themselves without drugs. I know you do start to see things though. This one guy stayed awake for 10 days and did claim to see things. I know your immune system is effected pretty bad by being awake for a while and you get sores on your feet from being up so long.

I have stayed up for 72+ hours on a few occasions. It does make you feel high and sometimes even euphoric. I don’t think it is dangerous unless you try to drive or something.

I had a sleep study to diagnose and treat sleep apnea about a year ago. They found that I didn’t ever reach REM sleep which many experts say is crucial yet I apparently went for months or years without it. After I got treated, my brain rebounded and I had an intense dreams almost constantly during sleep for the first few weeks. It seems like some crucial parts of sleep aren’t really that crucial. Nobody even knows what sleep is really for in the first place.

Sleep deprivation

Yonks ago in elementary or junior high we watched a film on sleep deprivation. No idea of the title and can’t vouch for the accuracy, but a couple of things from the film have stuck with me. One, after something like 48 hours awake a person will supposedly involuntarily fall asleep for 10-15 seconds at a time and two, the film represented sleep-dep hallucinations as these screeching yellow monsters that creeped me the hell out.

I never felt ‘high’ but on the occasions when I had stayed awake for 3+days, I did have hallucinations. Mostly just squiggly colorful lines at the edges of my field of vision.

60 Minutes did a segment on this (this past Sunday, I think). The various researchers to whom Leslie Stahl talked said their sleep studies showed that lack of sleep if cumulative; i.e., over just a few days of only 4-5-6 hours sleep, one’s judgment is affected, reactions slowed. The most startling finding: even though one’s abilities are affected, we doesn’t realize it and think we’re fine, especially when driving, and can be revived with coffee, turning up the radio, opening the window, etc., but that gives only a false sense that we’re “awake.” Most people need 7.5 to 8 hours sleep to achieve REM sleep and deep sleep. Most school kids do not get enough sleep and as a result have trouble focusing and absorbing in school. Naps help, but not enough. Bottom line: we’re all too busy and think we can get along with only 4-5 hours sleep, but not so. Log off the SDMB and get to bed!

So is there any scientific explanation for the “black to blue” color change? Why do we experience this? Maybe it’s the sleep world trying to peel into reality… I don’t know.

And I’m curious, since we’ve all stayed awake for longer than we wanted at one point, what’s the longest any of you folks have stayed awake? No nodding off, no nap, not just watching tv or at home online… actually staying awake and interacting with the rest of the world. It’s a whole different trip. Oh yes, I forgot to mention this, I was keeping a light buzz on for the entirety of this journey. I was drinking one Heineken every hour or so, helped me stay awake to be honest… but took a break to eat a small meal every 8 hours or so.

Fatal Familial Insomnia is, as the name implies, fatal.

Another anecdote here - I’ve experienced hallucinations after a long period awake (at work constantly for days on end - so it was awake, and working hard) - things in my peripheral vision were moving - taunting me, but stopped moving when I looked directly at them. The pattern on the carpet detached and started floating up, waving like the ocean, and I experienced a strong delusion that sleep isn’t really necessary - it’s all just a big lie or conspiracy that they tell you (whoever ‘they’ are).

That was just your boss whispering in your ear, the bleeding slavedriver!