As someone who proudly acknowledges their status as one of the freshy-est of freshmen, I’ve been wary of midterm season since the first week of classes, constantly on edge and alert. I did all that I could have to keep myself on top of my game but nothing could have prepared me for the hell week that presented itself upon me.
Five projects, all worth 30% or more of the respective classes due in the same week and two of which being scientific research papers (aka soul-sucking dream crushers).
Now, a regular sane human being would panic and be as productive as they could for set periods of time every day and then pass the hell out so they can work again in the morning. I am not a regular sane human being. I am a sleep-hating masochist that did the only “logical” thing –– stay up for five days straight.
Out of a possible 120 hours in five days, I was conscious for 105.
105. Hours. Straight.
Now I’d call myself experienced in ruining my sleep but this was extreme even for me. I’ve been pulling all-nighters on a pretty regular basis since junior year of high school, one or two a week a common enough occurrence. This, however, was another step entirely. My record up until then had been 72 hours, 3 days of solid consciousness, but this was something on a whole nother level.
In that dandy span of time, I became intimately aware of the effects of sleep deprivation and I will now give you a small window into the existence of suffering that is constant consciousness.
This is the beginning, the point where you haven’t yet realized what you’re getting yourself into but just know that you have the world against you and not nearly enough time to face it. You’re likely well rested and at peak emotional productivity.
You’ve crossed the 24-hour point and entered the abyss. Welcome to suffering, population: You. This is the point where all of a sudden the consequences of your decisions have hit you and all you want to do is pass out in your 8 a.m. lecture but the only solace you have is that you’ve progressed and need to remain conscious. Joy has significantly departed from your life but at least you’re still alive.
At this point you’ve come to the realization that life is pain, existence is suffering, and the only reason that you’re conscious is because your GPA depends on it but even that is barely an excuse. You’ve at this point found a place to call home for the remaining duration of your self-inflicted suffering and returned a slight bit of joy to your bare excuse of an existence.
The jokes are off at this point and you’ve suddenly shot into a surge of productivity. All that you want is to finish what’s left of whatever unholy midterm project has pulled your consciousness this far away from the light. Motivation has vanished, hope has burned away, and this entire thing feels like a mistake.
You’ve discovered the magic of “microsleeps” –– deprivation induced blackouts that range from seconds to hours. Chunks of the day have vanished from memory and life in its entirety means little to nothing. The work is finished. Your GPA has been salvaged. You may not be truly alive anymore but at least this lifetime of pain has passed. The only light is sleep but even that cannot truly relieve the pain that you have experienced, live to see another day but never truly living again.
The moral of this story, don't stay awake for five days. There's no reason to be proud of not sleeping. Really. Extended consciousness is pain and spawns only suffering, excessive pessimism, and an all around mood to complain. Would not recommend.