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rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Is sleep deprivation induced (still fully aware of reality) hallucinations damaging in any way?

Asked by rpm_pseud0name (8193points) May 1st, 2010

(please, only serious answers, for I am a little worried) I am prone to sever cases of insomnia. Some nights I would get at most, 2 hours of sleep & this will last for several weeks. Even on such little sleep, I am fully functional, aware, not drowsy or fatigued in any way. The only down side (besides laying in bed, staring at the ceiling for 6 hours) is that I have these hallucinations. I’ll think that I am seeing insects crawling on floor, or the feeling that they are one me. I know that what I am seeing/feeling is not real, but it still worries me. Is there any damage being done to my brain? I have recently gotten a sleep aid, but it’s not always effective. Any one have any insight on the matter? Thanks.

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13 Answers

xxii's avatar

I would be more worried about them being a symptom of the insomnia worsening than a separate source of damage. I assume you’ve seen a doctor? A psychiatrist? Besides the sleep aid, what kind of treatment are you receiving?

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@xxii, no treatment. Only the sleep aid so far.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Chronic sleep deprivation does interfere with cognitive functioning. I have not been able to sleep in a bed for over six years. I rarely sleep well and often hardly sleep at all. It is not uncommon to misperceive stimuli when you are chronically sleep deprived. Drugs to help people sleep can induce bizarre dreams.

These problems can interfere significantly with daily functioning. If you are wondering if sleep deprivation can permanently damage your brain, I would say the evidence for that is lacking. Sleep deprivation can result in narcolepsy which can be very dangerous if the person falls asleep which operating machinery or a vehicle.

xxii's avatar

@rpmpseudonym – According to some superficial reading on the subject, hypnagogic hallucinations (the sort of hallucinations you’re experiencing) are typically a sign that treatment needs to start.

lloydbird's avatar

You might want to look into Lucid dreaming.
It might provide you with an interesting angle on the experiences that you are having. And maybe even a way to control and manage them.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

What kind of treatment are we talking about here? Industrial strength sleep aid, or white coated men taking me off to a rubber room? I know I’m not crazy, or spiraling into a deep, dark, schizophrenia state of mind, but is this how it starts? When I force a healthy sleep routine, with lots of sleep aid, I can get on track with getting 8 hours of sleep a night, but all it takes is one night of me staying up late & it’s hard to get back on track. I am a normal guy, mid-twenties, college educated. I’m a screenwriter. States of depression come & go. It’s usually caused by my writing jobs at hand. I never considered these hallucinations too serious, but as I get older, I begin to worry a little more.

xxii's avatar

@rpmpseudonym, I’m pretty sure only a medical professional could answer those questions for you.

Supacase's avatar

Seriously, go to your doctor. Not because I think you’re on the way to being nuts, but because I think you can find some help. There are so many different kinds of sleep problems and you won’t really know until you see a specialist.

I thought I had simple insomnia – I actually have a delayed circadian rhythm (or something like that) where my circadian rhythm is off by a few hours. There is some speculation that I have a 26 hour cycle instead of 24, but we haven’t followed up on that yet.

On the other hand, my husband sleeps easily but is always tired. Turns out he gets no REM sleep at all.

Not that either of these apply to you; My point is simply that there are so many causes we would never begin to imagine. There are things they can do to help, so check it out with a doctor.

LadyMmaLover's avatar

The hallucinations are a warning sign that you are allowing yourself to become too sleep deprived. I would imagine if this were to continue there could be compounding damages so may need to seek other help if the sleep aids you recently began do not start working. Definitely consult your doctor and consider speaking to a psychiatrist.

poisonedantidote's avatar

<—- not a doctor: based on what i have heard over the years, the hallucination its self would not be damaging, but the hallucination is probably a product of damage that has already happened to you in the form of sleep deprivation.

tranquilsea's avatar

The longest I’ve ever gone without sleep is close to 5 days. On the forth day I started hallucinating and it sucked. I only slept for 30 minutes at a time for days after that.

During those awful days, I got sick easier and if I had tried to drive it could have been tragic.

People who stop sleeping completely die within months…so it is nothing to monkey around with.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Sleep deprivation can take years off your life. I recommend you see your physician and ask about the nearest sleep diagnostic center.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Thanks to all who wrote in. I’ll definitely see my doctor about this.

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