Growth? Change? Sleep deprivation?

So, I have a really interesting problem.

Everyone in the external world.. Oops, not everyone, but a majority of people.. caution me repeatedly about sleep deprivation and how much damage it will do to me / my life / etc. About half the times that I have experimented with sleep deprivation – either because of the effects of drugs I was using, or because of a concious choice to go down that road.. I have ended up in a psych hospital.

Now that I have heard the conditions for why one would end up in a psych hospital, I know that in fact for most of my life I have qualified for one of the conditions. “A danger to myself”. I had a really bad habit. I participated actively in my own ego-destruction because I didn’t want my ego to get too large, because I found people with excessive egos to be annoying.

At this point, I’m no longer participating that way. I believe that I’m sane enough and a good enough judge of myself that I do not need to insult myself / tell myself that various friends don’t want to spend time with me / tell myself that people who have never given any evidence of hating me hate me / doubt people who have shown over time to be trustworthy. My mind is a much quieter place since I made the irrevocable decision not to hurt myself in this way any more.

It astonishes me how easy this change was. Several of the previous changes that I have made in myself have been very difficult – ceasing using drugs, making the irrevocable decision to not think about or talk about suicide any more. (I did so recently despite my best inclinations on the matter, and I ended up regretting it)

But sleep deprivation is complicated. I’ve seen amazing things, heard amazing things, and seen measurable growth in my dream life and my inner life every time I engaged in it. On the other hand, there’s no doubt that there is some period after 72-ish hours where my decision-making skills become poor, my ability to navigate is seriously diminished, and in general I’m not tracking as well as I normally do. However, I can’t shake the feeling – even though no one I’ve talked to has agreed with this – that there is some plateau hanging out after 100-ish hours at which I will return to my usual level of competency and just, well, no longer need sleep.

One of the possible ramifications of being lost in plato’s cave – which I will readily admit that I am – I have no idea how much of the reality I experience is internally generated (“the map”) vs how much is externally generated (“the territory”). To put it another way, I’m pretty sure that a fair amount of what I experience is at least somewhat under my control, but it’s not under my *conscious* control.

To add to the fun, I am not at all whether my subconscious mind is pro me getting the experiences I want, or against. It seems pretty clear that whatever part of my mind that is responsible for creating my dreams has a history of not liking the part of my mind that is experiencing those dreams as subjective reality, since the dreams that I have are often nightmares. I’m not sure what to take from the fact that most of these nightmares are about unsolvable problems.. I recently had a dream in which people were slamming cinderblocks against my head. One advantage of not sleeping is not having to deal with the dreams I have when I sleep. I have a few good dreams.. and a much higher percentage than I did a year ago, so I see improvement, and improvement is a good thing..

Anyway, back to the debate.

Here are some of the pros and cons:

Pro: Intense and very good visual experiences (including starbursts, pretty lights, hallucinating the muppets)
Permanent improvement in my ability to visualize
Temporary improvement in kinesthetic abilities i.e. skating, dancing, playing the keys
Temporary periods of fearlessness which enable me to investigate the folly of most fear
Permanent improvement in number of nightmares I experience
Permanent improvement in my ability to think outside the box

Con: Risk of harm? I haven’t yet been harmed by any of my adventures in sleep-dep land but large numbers of people keep telling me this is luck and could change at any time
Risk of incarceration (Mental hospital or jail, it’s basically the same animal)
Lowered considerably by my learning that mental hospitals do not in fact help me get better (although they can be fun) and understanding my legal rights in WA regarding
being placed in such places for more than 72 hours
Poor decision-making skills
Risk of losing friends (?)
Frightens my friends (:()
Do not always correctly respect other people’s bounderies. <--- BUG, must fix Basically, when I look at the cons, what I'm saying is that it's high risk behavior. Apparently considerably higher risk than, for example, taking a hit of acid. On the other hand, I've never found drugs to be anywhere near as mind-expanding as not sleeping. If this does turn out to be a addictive behavior with only bad effects, or with more bad effects than good ones, I expect I can get free of it using the same process that got me free of my other addictions. There is also the question of what would happen if I didn't sleep but also used a antipsychotic or other psych med to help compensate for whatever issues I have. There are people who claim that sleep deprivation will cause death, but then, you can find people who claim that just about anything will cause death, and thus far I haven't died, not even once. 😉 [In point of fact, if quantum immortality is true, I've died many, many times and just not experienced that death because as the subjective observer, I can never die]

9 Responses to “Growth? Change? Sleep deprivation?”

  1. Clint Says:

    Self-reporting is never accurate. (Indeed, double-blind was invented because even blind is inaccurate, and you’re not even blind in your observations.)

    And there is a bounty of information on people dying of exhaustion from not sleeping.

  2. sheer_panic Says:

    For sure. And any time one is doing something that affects the system that is doing reporting, the reports get extra hand-wavy.

    It’s confusing to me why something which will lead to death feels good, but I will also acknowledge that there are many things like that (i.e. alcohol poisoning, extreme hypothermia, etc). I also haven’t in recent years done more than four days without sleep, and even that does not feel universally good.. there’s certainly a roller-coaster-ride effect involved where sometimes it feels good and sometimes it just doesn’t.. and some of the delusions are downright interesting. I’ve gotten a lot better at not being fooled by them, although some of them are so much fun that I *want* to be fooled by them.

    I do note that the world record is 18 days without sleep, so clearly death is a *long* way out. It also may be that some people are susceptible to death by exhaustion while others are not. At this point I’m not worried about the death thing because other problems come up for me long before death would be likely – the biggest one being that I have difficulty communicating with other people, and the second biggest one being that I think that people who don’t want to talk to me do want to talk to me, and the third one being that I trust everyone *way* too much. I think the psych hospitals are the result of me sharing details about my inner life that I usually keep to myself, for example.. I need to not trust police or mental health workers quite so much. 😉

  3. Clint Says:

    I can tell you my guess – when you die (at least if you/your body is expecting it; it’s not Final-Destination-movie sudden), your body is about to give up, at which point there is no incentive for it to make you feel pain, which is strictly an evolutionary survival method. So at the very last moments, death is supposed to be pleasant (in ideal situations, which can always be ruined). So… things that lead to death would tend to feel pleasant as well. Plus, it’s like sleep, and we all like sleep. Pure speculation here, but I don’t think I’m totally off.

    The world record for holding your breath is over 30 minutes, but I don’t think you’d last 1/4th that long. A better statistic than the one Guiness-Book-level outlier would be the LD50 for sleep-d.

    Tho if I ever wanted to thwart an alien invasion, the Guiness book of world records is the propaganda piece I would choose to scare them away with.

  4. sheer_panic Says:

    I do think that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 🙂

    I don’t mean that it feels good when you’re hanging out close to the shutdown quotiant, I mean that it feels good to have been awake for three days, or four..

    I’m willing to bet (my life, heh heh) that I can do at least a week without dying. As far as holding your breath, remember you’re talking to a nitrous addict. I’ve gone without oxygen for *hours*. I don’t have the willpower to hold my breath, but I know from personal experience that you can live for a long time on pure nitrous.. hours..either that, or I’ve already died a number of times – a possibility that I don’t discount.

  5. Clint Says:

    No, you think you’ve gone without oxygen for hours, but you definitely had access to some, or you’d be dead. I don’t even think it’s really a matter of debate. It shouldn’t be metabolically possible. IIRC, the 30 minutes was only accomplished by pre-enriching one’s blood with pure oxygen for 30 minutes in advance. You may have had decreased or very low oxygen for hours, but you had to have had some. Who knows, maybe they mix some into “pure”
    nitrous to keep people from killing themselves 😉 I don’t think you died a number of times, but it’s not a possibility I discount either. But if you came back, it would probably be because you managed to gasp some good ol O2 🙂

  6. Sheer Says:

    Of course I did have some oxygen. Nitrous oxide *contains* oxygen. It’s just, if one believes the web, not possible to survive off said oxygen because it’s O, rather than O2. My understanding from various research is that O binds too tightly to the red blood cells and doesn’t want to let go, thusly making it difficult for them to deliver the oxygen to other parts of the body. But clearly my research was in error, because I’m still alive.

  7. Clint Says:

    you’re equivocating “the web” with “the fruition of modern medical scientific knowledge”

  8. sheer_panic Says:

    *laughs* I’ve tried asking doctors. The results haven’t been that helpful as of yet. Anyway, at this point it’s just academic curiosity as for the past year-and-two-months I have been persuing a drug-free lifestyle (aside from the occasional psych med to enable me to sleep when I want to and am unable to)

  9. Sheer Energy Says:

    This is, in fact, a fucking theme. See today’s post.

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