The longest I've been up was five days, because I wanted to push myself, but by the fifth night no amount of ice could bring me back to a worthwhile state of mind or body and I knew I was only prolonging a barren twilight existence. I decided to let sleeping dogs lie and get some rest... 6 hours later I am staring at the ceiling, mind numb and body frozen. It was almost peaceful, but I know my body must have felt like it was dying.
I don't believe I was ever in danger during those five days, but I have since made the effort to research sleep as thoroughly as I have the drugs
that disturb it (A Wikipedia PhD, don't you know?), and I quickly realized just how unhealthy a lack of sleep is.
I may have only been up for five days once, but I used to sleep every other night for weeks on end, and right before my eyes I have experienced decreased reaction time
(which could be a safety hazard), lack of memory recall and short-term memory consolidation
, extremely decreased wound healing
and an absence of motivation and enjoyment,
no matter what I happened to be doing.
Lack of sleep is an ancient animal companion; it tells the animal: something is not right, this is not a good place to stay, you are not safe.
The stress response induces hair loss, brings about acne, increases the heart rate and prevents the brain from oxidizing free radicals
that accumulate in the brain during the day.
No sleep is stress. Stress is a killer, quite literally the number one human killer and you can trace all of our favorite diseases right to it.
Today I make sure I get at least a few hours of sleep every night. I have not changed my drug
of choice, I've changed my priorities. Sleep is a basic, vital function. It is not fun to stay up unnaturally. It is not cool to prove how long you can go without sleep. Your body is the most beautiful creation in your Universe. It doesn't, you do not, deserve what a lack of sleep does.