Wisdom Through Humor
Experiments in Sleep Deprivation

Heather Gallagher

Between 2 pm Saturday the 19th of August and 2:30 am Tuesday the 22nd, I was conscious, that's 60.5 hours.

Now, to those medically, true blue, insomniacs out there you might be thinking "wuss." For me, however, I'm thinking "damn I could've gone for longer." All in all, though, it was still the most fun I could have for free. And after my experiences this time around, I know I'll do it again, and last longer. Actually, I recommend everyone do it.

Sleep deprivation is an amazingly cleansing, frightening, exhausting and revealing experience. Seeing just how far you can push your body, based purely on your own will power, is quite an impressive endeavor. You'd be surprised to find out how much abuse your body can take. You can't help but gain a sense of pride when you meet whatever goal it was you set for yourself. After being up so long you gain a certain sense of clarity and limpidity to your thoughts and view of the world, while your physical eyesight gets blurry. One of the most memorable experiences I had, occurred a little after 24 hours. I was laying out on my lawn in a patch of sunlight, staring up into the trees, watching the birds and knowing that this is what life is all about. Living and enjoying life, not about money, or love, or jobs or anything else, just the pure blissful rest of nature. Maybe you'll come to your own conclusions, although, if they revolve around the amazing insights your toaster has for you, forgive me if I sound speculative.

Now, despite popular opinion, hallucinations don't really occur until after 36 hours, visual ones after 60. Here's where the experience can become a little frightening. The most potent hallucination I had was an audile one. In which, whilst staring into a kiddy pool on my deck, I heard the voices of all the occupants in my house calling my name. My first thought was that I had passed out headfirst into the kiddy pool and was trying to be revived. With this frightening thought in my head, I stared coldly at the smiling cartoon fish on the sides of the pool and reassured myself. Later on, I began to realize that I didn't actually know if one could go insane from sleep deprivation. "I'm truly beginning to fear what I've done to myself" I scrawled in a paper journal I had been keeping as proof of my consciousness. But rest assured, any insanity picked up from lack of sleep will recede with sleep.

Of course, I'm sure that the only way for you all to truly enjoy the wonders of sleep deprivation is to do it yourself. So here I have composed a list of Do's and Don'ts for those of you with enough gumption to give this a shot.

Do set a goal for yourself (mine was 48)

Don't use your computer if you can avoid it (lap tops are a little less dangerous).

Do attempt to go past that goal for "fun" after you achieve it.

Don't exercise heavily.

Do stock up on quick to make snack foods. (trust me, you'll get hungry)

Don't operate heavy machinery.

Do try to do something constructive with your many extra hours.

Don't sit around in the dark.

Do get a few friends to help keep you up (it'll be near impossible without them)

Don't be afraid of your hallucinations.

Do get up at an early hour on the first day (like 6-8)

Don't give up unless you have to.

Do get at least 9 hours the night before you start.

Don't do it at an inconvenient time.

Do feel free to milk your condition a little (mind you a little).

Don't give in to the temptation to tell off irritating people.

Do have a book, cards or art supplies lying around.

Don't use the computer! (It's worth repeating, it'll suck the energy out of you like a two bit whore).

Do document your experiences, it'll be a hoot later on.

Don't eat stuff that's known to be relaxing and sleep inducing.

Do feel free to try to get Starbucks to sponsor you, failing that, just drink anything with caffeine. Using drugs made for this purpose is cheating. And most importantly:

Don't listen to the fruit or the microwave, those suckers lie like there's no tomorrow!


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