Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sanity is overrated

Sleep deprivation does weird things to my inner monologue.  As I get more and more sleep deprived, outwardly I become quieter, but inwardly, I get crazier.  If this blog post sounds crazy to you, it's because I composed half of it while on the bus to school at the height of my sleep-deprived state this week.  Just to give you some context to where I'm coming from, I recently finished one of the most grueling school weeks I've had since undergrad.  Here's a pie chart of an average normal day juxtaposed with that of my average from last week.  Now, getting four hours of sleep in a night is not unusual on occasion, but to sustain that over a week of studying is more difficult.

According to Wikipedia, "The link between sleep deprivation and psychosis was further documented in 2007 through a study at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkeley. The study revealed, using MRI scans, that lack of sleep causes the brain to become incapable of putting an emotional event into the proper perspective and incapable of making a controlled, suitable response to the event."  This is what it feels like from my perspective: Imagine that the inner monologue is walking down a path.  Normally, this path has fences on the sides put up by logic and reason.  These constrain things to their proper place, and set boundaries on where to travel.  But sleep deprivation is like a rainstorm.  When it continues unabated for many days, the ground starts to get muddy, and the fences start to wobble a bit.  After a while the fences start to tip over one-by-one.  And then the inner monologue starts kicking the fences over and cavorting through the mud wherever it pleases.

This isn't to say that there isn't any reason or logic behind thought processes in a sleep-deprived state.  It's just that the links are unconventional.  Almost like the stream of thoughts when falling asleep on the bus and slipping into a dream-state.  More abstract, more random, shifting much more quickly.  If a series of thought processes is like hiking down a mountain, that same path in a sleep-deprived state is like going down the mountain through the forest on a Slip 'n Slide.  Point A is connected to point B, but the way you get there is drastically different, and in the latter case the present is so overwhelming that it's easy to forget where you were just a second ago.

As an example, I was standing in line at Tim Horton's last week, and there was a very tall person in front of me.  Remarkably tall, in fact, probably close to 7 feet.  Now normally, such information would be a simple observation.  "Note: tall."  And then move on.  However, the inner monologue of sleep deprivation commented as follows, "Whoahhh, so tallllll! So tall! Super tall!   Like a tree!  Like a Christmas tree, with squirrels at the top.  If a squirrel climbed to the top of his head, it could ride around there, and the world would look like ants.  Then other squirrels could stand on that squirrel's head, and they could make a giant tower of squirrels."

I don't even know why I'm writing this post.  It's easy for me now to just pretend that last week didn't exist and dismiss all those thoughts as irrelevant.  And yet, I remember the me of last week partially composing this post and being adamant that this post must be published.  So, for the myself of last week, I shall finish writing and put this up for all to read.  I spend a lot of time thinking about what is real and what is true.  So I wonder, which is more real to who I am?  Which is a truer representation of myself?  All that I have been able to come up with is that both are equally true.  If the entirety of who I am is like a box of crayons, then perhaps these different states are just different combinations of colours being shaken out of the box to colour with.  And no matter the crayons I end up with in my hand at one time or another, I colour only and always for Jesus, so the picture is bound to be beautiful no matter what happens.


sarahs sister said...

This graph only proves to me what I have previously thought. There is entirely NOT enough time in your day devoted to eating, even when you aren't busy and sleep deprived.

Celine said...

Loved the blog, and I understand where you are coming from, I suffer from partial insanity as a result of irregualr sleep patterns.

DL3 said...