December 04, 2006

The many faces of sleep deprivation.

My mind is awake but my body is still tired; probably because I've recently been having very ungodly sleeping patterns.

Let's see if I can remember. I think about a week ago I was up until about 8 a.m. The next day I was up until 10 a.m. and then I think I was up over 24 hours, going to bed at 4 p.m the next day. Then, the day before I had to work at noon I remember waking up at like 3 a.m. and staying up until I had to work from noon until 7 p.m. and then I stayed up until I think noon the next day (33 hours). Yesterday I woke up at 8 p.m., went to a dinner party until 1 a.m., then came home and slept until now (6 a.m.).

If you're wondering what I've been doing all this time... mostly playing video games, working on websites, doing homework, ripping DVDs, watching Christmas movies, listening to Daft Punk and making a lot of typos.

All of this has seemed to coordinate me into being the morning person I thought was never possible. Usually I have trouble getting up at 10 a.m., but now getting up at 6 a.m. feels like sleeping in.

Also, I think I have proven a theory I had: it is impossible to get tired when you're using a computer. The strain on your eyes, however, is a setback.

And you know how you get all crazy and goofy when you're really tired sometimes? Well it's awesome. I found a list of effects of sleep deprivation which includes hyperactivity, hallucinations, psychosis, overall confusion and yawning (duh!).

I was suprised to see weight gain, faster aging and depression on the list. You'd think depression would cause sleep deprivation (since boredom is one of the causes), and not the other way around. Along with being a form of torture, it's also used as a treatment for depression (go figure!) which probably explains an improvement I've noticed in my overall mood. Another explanation could be the fact that I've just been feeling like I've been on drugs.

All of this has reminded me of an article I read a while ago about a guy from Vietnam who hasn't slept in 33 years:
You'd think going without sleep for that long may have its drawbacks, but not for the man in central Quang Nam province who has never been ill after decades of insomnia.

His inability to sleep has not only made him famous, but also represents a "miraculous" phenomenon worthy of scientific study.

Sixty-four-year-old Thai Ngoc, known as Hai Ngoc, said he could not sleep at night after getting a fever in 1973, and has counted infinite numbers of sheep during more than 11,700 consecutive sleepless nights.

I think that's what I want for Christmas this year.

I found an article on Randy Gardner too:
Randy Gardner holds the Guinness world record for the longest period of time a human being has gone without sleep. In 1964, as a 17-year-old high school student, Gardner stayed awake for 264 hours (11 days) with the help of friends, TV reporters, and games of pinball. On his final day without sleep, Gardner presided over a press conference where he spoke without slurring or stumbling his words and in general appeared to be in excellent health.


On the fourth day he had a delusion that he was a famous black football player who won the Rose Bowl, and that a street sign was a person. On the eleventh day, when he was asked to subtract seven repeatedly, starting with 100, he stopped at 65. When asked why he had stopped, he replied that he had forgotten what he was doing.

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