I have reached that stage in sleep deprivation where you just eat all the time. I don’t think it’s because I’m unusually hungry, my body is just desperately hunting to an alternative energy source. It doesn’t understand why I won’t go to sleep, but it’s doing its best to compensate.
Apparently some pretty cool things can happen to you if you build up enough sleep deprivation, especially if you do it by just not sleeping at all, rather than gradually accumulating deficiency, which is what I am doing. Like hallucinations. I’m actually not that in awe of hallucinations. I have had hallucinations. My doctors once put me on acid reflux medicines after proving categorically that I didn’t have acid reflux. They made me hallucinate. I saw hands, tables and a cat leaping out of a tree. They were pretty mundane but highly inconvenient.
The really interesting things to do with sleep happen when you actually sleep. Like sleep paralysis, which I get in a mild way fairly often. It never occurred to me that I was being sat upon by ghosts or abducted by aliens, alas, mostly because I worked out what was happening and don’t believe in these kinds of things. It might have been a bit more interesting if I did. Or sleep apnea, where your breathing goes funny and actually prevents you fromsuficiently resting, so you need lots and lots of sleep. I used to stop breathing in my sleep when I was a baby. Obviously my mother panicked. She was recommended to have my tonsils ripped out. The NHS being the NHS, I was on a waiting list for months, then a week or so before my appointment, I randomly stopped it. My mother cancelled the appointment. I have since suffered with tonsilitis my whole life.
There are also some pretty freaky sleep disorders like NARCOLEPSY. People with narcolepsy can just fall asleep anywhere doing anything. That is scary. When I was doing my 4th year project at Oxford there was an undergraduate with narcolepsy and she had to have a helper to follow her round the labs to make sure that she and whatever she was carrying or working with was okay if she fell asleep.
Sleepwalking is another one of those people know about, but can still be pretty stilling to see. Children do it a lot. When I was little, my mum would come in and find me, asleep, eyes wide open, arranging my farm animals in lines in order of size. She uses this story as an example of my underlying character… I also had night terrors, another common with children. Apparently many go through a phase around a certain age, then it just wears off. Still, it sounds pretty scary – no wonder I never wanted to go to sleep.
Dreams are pretty interesting. I like the idea of some office administrator sitting in my head filing away all the information I have picked up in the period of wakefulness. I get a lot of novels from my dreams; and then there are recurring dreams, stress dreams and nightmares. How do these all work? How do you get one kind of dream over another? I have only really started getting nightmares in recent years (and then only occasionally), probably as my ability to imagine things that are horrific has increased. As a child, I just had stress dreams. I still do, much of my dreaming time.
Archetypal dreams can say a lot about your mood. For example, I dream a lot about cars. An awful lot. This is especially notable since I have never owned a car and during my childhood, we had a car for a full 2 months total. Cars are not something I am familiar with; they are not something “usual”. But I dream that I am in a car and I or someone else is driving. This is supposed to be mimetic of control. If I am driving, I am in control. If I am driving well, I am empowered, taking my life where I want to go. But if someone else is driving, I am not in control, and if the driver is struggling or disasters keep blocking our path, my life is veering wildly, not sticking to the track I intend, circumstances are dominant over intent. Sometimes it’s not cars, but trains. I have spent a lot of my life on trains. But not very often. Most of the time, it’s cars.
My other common dream type is chasing dreams. I am being chased or hunted. I run; I hide; they get too close and I have to jump out of my hiding place and run again, try to throw them off and find a better hiding place. Repeat. No prizes for guessing what that is supposed to mean.