Skytopia > Articles > Sleep Is An Addictive Illness    (article heavily researched and created 09/01/2007)

Sleep Is An Addictive Illness

Sleep: Like pets, many people enjoy sleep, but then drugs can feel 'good' too.
I had a conversation with my mum today. It went something like this:

MUM: "I'm feeling tired, I'm going to go to bed soon"
ME: "You should try and fight sleep y'know."

MUM: "What? It's already 2am. When I fight sleep, my body is like a lead weight - I feel ill"
ME: "That's because you're suffering from withdrawal symptoms, and sleep seems like the only answer."

MUM: "Oh common, sleep is natural, it comes from within the body"
ME: "Tobacco is natural, it comes from the ground."

MUM: "[exasperated] ...I enjoy my sleep, it's like a luxury to me"
ME: "Yes, people 'enjoy' drugs too!"

MUM: "[without pausing] But I feel so refreshed in the morning"
ME: "Just like smoking relieves the symptoms until you need to smoke again where the vicious cycle repeats"

MUM: People have been known to collapse through exhaustion when they haven't had their proper sleep.
ME: Again, remarkably similar to people who try to give up smoking! The body feels weak until the next 'fix'.

She then got exasperated and went to bed, none the wiser.

Sleep is an insidious epidemic which has plagued mankind since the dawn of time. It's responsible for eating up roughly one third of our time, taking around 20-30 years off a person's life. It also contains all the properties of a class 1 drug, where resistance will result in extreme withdrawal symtoms (see section 3 - "Fighting Sleep"). Additionally, people in the so-called process of 'waking up' will often crave for more sleep, which is in many ways similar to booze, drugs, and smoking. Food (or the lack thereof) exhibits similar behaviour in many ways, but at least it tastes nice.

Section 2: Why do we need sleep?

Everyone is so used to the idea of sleep, that it doesn't occur to them that sleep is addictive. Scientists don't know why we supposedly need sleep, but apparently, it's got something to do with 'circadian rhythms' and is supposed to 'help form memories', heal the body, replenish the brain etc. How can we test this though if nobody's ever been more than a week without succumbing to the condition? How the heck is sleep supposed to help anyway?
Is it because you're still? Well, sitting on a couch watching TV will solve that.
Is it because your brain needs a rest? No, because the brain in sleep is actually highly active, dreaming and so forth.

The above provides proof that sleep is an unnecessary waste of time, but what is one to do?

Section 3: Fighting Sleep

Oh I've tried, how I've tried. I've often burnt the midnight oil for 2 or 3 days in a row with no sleep, managing around 4 on one occasion without a wink of sleep. It's relatively easy the first night, but then it gets progressively worse over time, and it usually gets to a stage where SOONER OR LATER YOU WILL AUTOMATICALLY FALL ASLEEP WITHOUT KNOWING. The really terrible thing is, avoiding sleep will reduce brain functioning and body coordination, so it makes you think that you have to sleep. Very insidious.

So what do you do?
You're 'forced' to sleep again, thus repeating the cycle, 'replenishing' your energy so life becomes 'bearable'. Wouldn't you call that a sign of addiction?

Section 4: What's the solution?

Willpower! The instinct to sleep is strong, and we have evolved the condition over millions of years, but you are stronger! Today you can give awakeness a chance, and regain 20 years of your life in the process. The temptation to sleep can often be overwhelming, but resistance is not futile. Fireflies, dolphins and ducks don't go to sleep, nor do nocturnal creatures (reference). If they can stay awake, so can we. Don't worry though, as you won't be unaided in your quest for neverending wakefulness...

Bright Bulb Therapy: A quick search online and I found this cool bulb, which should help to fight off the first signs of drowsiness.

Tips to stay awake include:
  • Some 300 watt CFLs (1200 watt equivalent) should help keep you awake until the morning sun! Use these to fool your brain that night doesn't exist!
  • If that should fail, then dip your head in cold water like Beethoven did, or if you want to go the full hog, then take regular showers at 3 degrees celsius - does wonders for the soul! If you can, try and switch between very hot and cold water showers every 10 seconds. That should help keep the mind and body alert at all times.
  • Keep saying to yourself "Sleep is for losers, I must not give in".
  • Invest in some loud speakers. These 2 kilowatt speakers should do the trick. Playing loud music should help keep the mind from wandering.
  • As a last resort, let 50 spiders loose in your bedroom when the sleeping pangs kick in. If you're even slightly arachnophobic, you'll rather stay awake than go to bed with those crawling around!

    Section 5: What the web has to say

    I've researched the entire web for some years now, and have found some evidence to back up my claims, and other quotes to refute.

  • "sleep is considered an illness in our society we need to cure" (ref)
    There you go - someone who's probably realised the devastating effects sleep has on us!

  • "the patient's sleep is disturbed by serious illness" (ref)
    Wrong! The sleep IS the illness.

  • "sleep apnea is a serious illness" (ref)
    I'm not sure what apnea is, but they're right about the sleep part.

  • "sleep, is an illness that frustrates physicians as much as patients" (ref)

  • "sleep, is thought to cause illness" (ref)

  • "Sleep deprivation is a physical illness" (ref)
    Only in as much as it feels that way until they kick the habit of sleep altogether!

  • "Never go to sleep" (ref)

    Need I go on?

    Perhaps you disagree with my views on the subject. Please feel free to email me, whereby any good arguments refuting my thoughts may well be printed on this site (anonymously). Look forward to hearing from you!

    DISCLAIMER: Any advice you take from this article is at your own risk. We cannot take any responsibility etc. etc. Right, that's it - I'm off to bed.


    (Google search terms: Arachnophobia solutions illness)
    From: ********
    Date: 03 July 2008 11:47:08
    Subject: Sleep.

    I stumbled upon your article and it greatly amused me. It's full of clever tricks to make you think you know what you're saying. The references don't support your idea, you merely just kept the parts that seemed like you were right. If sleep was an illness, then why does everyone have it from birth? You don't even get the cold on your first day on Earth. I hope you don't attempt to make my typing seem to favor you, because it doesn't. You're an idiot and you should not spread lies.

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