An Experiment in Sleep deprivation

sleeping-dog

Want to catch up on work? I think I’ve found the solution. Don’t sleep. Ever.

Just kidding, that’s a horrible idea. However, I did stay up for over 35 hours straight over the last two days and managed to get a TON done. Not only did I build two websites from scratch, but I also managed to do some design modifications to a bunch of my websites and blogs. If you’ve been there before, you’ve probably noticed the changes I made to this one. Anyways, I wanted to write a little bit about what it was like staying up so long.

The First Question Is Why?

No I’m not psychic, but I do know that most of you are wondering why someone would go without sleep. Was it work? Sleep? Combination of the two? Well it’s true that I’ve been working a lot lately and have a lot of projects to get done. However, this was not the only reason why I went so long without sleep.

The main reason why I went so long without sleep is because I completely forgot to go to sleep. It’s that simple. I sat down to work and the next thing I knew it was the next day. Which leads us to the next section…

The Concept of Time

clock
(Photo credit: Brandie!)

Believe it or not, ever since I started working for myself I have completely forgotten about the concept of time. Huh? In other words, I’ve stopped following any sort of schedule. I wake up when I wake up and go to sleep when I’m tired. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be but who knows.

Anyways, this is the main reason why I went so long without sleep. I got in a groove of working and didn’t feel tired so I chose not to sleep.

It’s amazing how easy it is to lose track of time when you work a lot it’s not that relevant. One of my good friends who runs a business could not have summed it any better than this:

Time is just kind of a fuzzy concept right now.

If you couldn’t tell, he’s also someone who likes what he does and spends a lot of time working.

When it comes to a normal day, I would guess that I glance at a clock only once or twice. And that’s only when I know I have to do something. I’ve gone days where I didn’t even look at a clock, let alone a calendar. Heck, even months don’t mean much unless you live somewhere where it’s going to get cold. Thank goodness for Texas weather.

The concept of time becomes even more weird when you go so long without sleep. It felt like a week went by when in reality only 35 hours passed. The sun literally went down, came back up, and then went back down again. Crazy.

The Side Effects

I did a lot of reading this morning on sleep deprivation. I know it’s by no means healthy, which is why I would never recommend it. However, I feel that if you naturally stay up and don’t feel tired then there’s no reason to force yourself to sleep. I eventually crashed and slept like a baby anyway.

Here’s some interesting information from Wikipedia:

According to a 2000 study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers in Australia and New Zealand reported that sleep deprivation can have some of the same hazardous effects as being drunk.[20] People who drove after being awake for 17–19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent, which is the legal limit for drunk driving in most western European countries (Canada, the U.S. and U.K. set their blood alcohol limits at .08 percent).

It’s interesting to read that considering I felt anything but drunk. I got a ton of work done, though it might have to do with the fact I didn’t try anything difficult like physical activity or driving. As far as brain function goes, I felt as normal as ever. I actually feel less productive immediately after waking up for some reason. Probably because I’m a night owl.

The After Effects

Like mentioned above, I ended up crashing last night and slept for 9 and a half hours. So how did I feel upon waking? Tired as hell that’s for sure. Had I not had a meeting, I would probably of slept for 2 or 3 more hours (possibly more). So I can guess it’s safe to say that you won’t feel that great after sleeping off a long night. 1 point for sleep.

Will I Do It Again?

Not on purpose. I’ll probably never try and stay up strictly to beat my hours awake record. I wouldn’t even use a bunch of caffeine to stay up, since I know that can cause all sorts of issues. I did that back in middle school but we’re grownups now.

Either way, I definitely recommend living on your own schedule if it’s feasible. It’s so great to be free of alarm clocks!

12 thoughts on “An Experiment in Sleep deprivation

  1. Jenn

    We had a deal that I have the place in the daytime while you’re sleeping, and you have the place at night when I’m sleeping. IT DOES NOT WORK WHEN YOU STAY UP! =)

    Reply
  2. Anil

    I did something like this once and was really going out of my mind. I naturally need a lot of sleep so maybe that’s why the effects were worse for me. Not something I’d do again willingly.

    Reply
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  5. kela

    Well I am in the same boat as you, I haven’t been to sleep for about 30ish hours now and after the first night i stayed up working at home, then caught the train to my work i felt completely awake and managed to finish of tweaking a site and got more work done than i’ve done in days, stacked a few cans of red bull and caught the train back, walking back home though i felt stoned or drunk, really daydreamy but quite happy too- i kinda noticed more around me than i usually did but at the same time wasn’t as bothered it’s definately not the first time I’ve pulled an all nighter but usually I’m drinking and not working so it’s quite interesting i will do it more often, but you need like 12 hours spare when you finally decide to put head to pillow

    Reply
  6. Dr, Ruth

    I think it’s a great mistake to assume that we’re all the same when it comes to sleep . . . that we all need the same amount or have the same sleep patterns. As you say, it’s probably not wise to deprive yourself of sleep in this way too often (perhaps once in a lifetime is enough!) but the point is that you were able to do it without any ill effects. Some people sleep 9 hours a night and wake up feeling tired as their norm. Others, such as Margaret Thatcher, can get away with just four or five hours a night. The important thing is to have as much sleep as you need, when you need it.

    Reply
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