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The Corroboree

I'm high on life...

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Sleep deprivation leads to some altered states for sure. Quite quickly you reach a point where some of those “filters” drop and the world suddenly has a lot more tracers & fractals & such in it. Along with just straight-up hallucinations. It starts out minor - mostly corner-of-the-eye stuff where your brain makes a best-guess at what you glimpsed, and that guess turns out to be wrong.


Deeper into sleep debt, those visual hallucinations become more common & enduring, and can be accompanied by auditory hallucinations. I’ve also gotten to where touch signals started going haywire as well (though never proprioception, strangely), but by that point my brain was so fried that it barely registered. Because unfortunately (for seekers of natural highs, at least) sleep dep also leads to just a general loss of cognitive function where you can’t think or react or remember things quickly/well. In more severe cases there are reports of delusional & paranoid behaviour - I think a big chunk of “amphetamine psychosis” is synonymous with severe sleep deprivation. And certainly a lot of the unpleasantness is down to the increased stress that goes with lack of sleep - whether it’s the cause, effect, or a nasty cycle of both. Being stressed all the time means that your body is always in low-level fight-or-flight mode, which is fucking terrible for your general well-being, and brings us to…


Long-term effects - these include increased blood pressure, fucked metabolism & digestion, decreased immune function & memory…and some other fun stuff like organ decline & increased risk of heart attack. So yeah, as far as “natural highs” go, it’s the crystal meth of the group - not recommended. If you have no choice in the matter though, there’s a few things I’ve found to help minimise the adverse effects:


*low-carb/high-protein/high-fat diet - if you’re awake an extra 8hrs/day, you need to eat an extra meal each day as well, or even two. Making them low-carb stops the sugar-highs & inevitable crashes afterwards, which you really don’t need on top of the sleep dep. Especially if you’re active during these times, or there are stims involved, I really can’t emphasise this enough - your body needs fuel.
*drink plenty of water
*don’t drive - after just 20hrs awake you’re already up to ~2 standard drinks worth of impairment (according to the few studies on this topic which got past ethics approval - I’m sure that many armed forces have more detailed data, but considering how they obtain it, they haven’t seen fit to publish)

*know when to quit - if you're staying awake to study or get work done (or do anything which requires even a little brainpower), sleep dep will really fuck with your ability to function after a while. It's worth doing a little cost/benefit analysis every so often to decide whether it's worth staying up another night - if you're just going to spend half of it reading & re-reading the same paragraph over & over because your brain is fried, it might be more productive to spend those hours napping.
*relax - even if you can’t sleep, take the time to meditate/relax for a little while. Go for a walk, take a long shower, anything. Getting those stress hormones under control will keep your body in better shape and your sanity alive a little longer.

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Very true Ano.

I think my personal record was around 4 days and the line between awake and dreaming was not at all clear.

The closest approximation I can relate it to is datura without the dry horrors.

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