Away From Keyboard

Be back later. Here, have an open thread.

Conversation starter: What’s the longest you’ve stayed awake (without the help of drugs stronger than caffeine and nicotine)?

I clocked about 80 hours once myself, in high school. I knew I was in trouble when I started hallucinating. I suspect if I tried to stay awake that long now, my brain might snap in two.

Speaking of which: Off to sleep.

66 Comments on “Away From Keyboard”

  1. shaunduke – Shaun Duke is a podcaster, a reviewer, a blogger, and a writer. He is a host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show, a blogger at The World in the Satin Bag, a freelance editor at The Duke of Editing, and a co-owner of Young Writers Online. He also co-hosts Totally Pretentious, a movie discussion podcast, with David Annandale. Outside of fandom activities, he is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Florida, where he studies science fiction, postcolonialism, and Caribbean literature.
    SMD

    Twenty-three hours, give or take thirty minutes. Granted, not remotely impressive, but I was ten years old and a friend and I were going to break the world record for longest time awake. We failed, obviously.

    I could have beaten that record when I was on chemotherapy though. There was a point where the side effects gave me these painful cramps (not immensely painful, but painful enough and constant enough to prevent me from sleeping fully). I spent a little over a week trying desperately to sleep with those pains, taking painkillers and eating loads of prunes (it was thought that I was constipated or something of that nature), etc. I can’t count it, though, because even though I lost out on practically all of the sleep, I did manage to get ten minutes in here, another ten there. So technically I slept, but it was never for a long period of time.

    And that’s me.

  2. I suspect if I tried to stay awake that long now, my brain might snap in two.

    … how can you be sure that it didn’t then?

  3. around 50 hours, about twice a year.The big cons are hectic affairs here, and I developed a personal tradition of not sleeping the last night so I could get more of the awesome before it all ends.And then I collapse the next evening and sleep 12 hours:).

  4. About 36 hours. I was working on a project at work that had to go live and it was a giant sucking failure. I finally couldn’t think anymore and got in my car to drive home, which was a distance of 67 miles, from Brea to Northridge. A moment passed, I realized I was in Pasadena with absolutely no memory of the intervening 40 miles. I pulled off the freeway and into a parking lot to sleep, but the security guard wasn’t having any of my hot sleep-in-car action, so I drove another 6 miles to a friend’s apartment and slept for 4 hours there, then I drove home.

    The project failed big time. Twenty years have passed and I’m still not happy with the project, its plan or its outcome.

  5. I only pulle one true allnighter in college where I was up for 36 hours straight.

    However, during one particularly bad week junior year college I went a week with 2 hours sleep a night. It got to the point where I could no longer distinguish between my waking and sleeping states and the less said about the complete non sequiters I was uttering while face down sort of passed out on the floor when i was supposed to be working with a friend on our astronomy problem set. It made perfect sense to me right about to the point where I was talking about knitting and realized I probably wasn’t entirely awake and woke up to see my study partner sitting there laughing at me.

  6. Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think the most was 38 hours, at a Star party. No we weren’t looking for Paris Hilton, but for Astrological Stars. It was quite interesting around hour 30 when most of the people there started to see Sylvester the Cat and Porkey Pig.

  7. Forty-eight hours for me.
    Though once over a three day span, I worked, in a shipping department, thirty-six hours with only four hours of sleep and about three hours of travel time from home to work and back. I wouldn’t want to try that again. Not getting any younger, you know.

  8. It was more than three days, less than four. It started out innocently enough. There was this sleepover thing at the high school that the rotary ran for elementary schoolers. I decided, as did many others, that it was a waste of time to sleep when there was so much stuff to do. By the time my Mom picked me up the next day I’d come out the other side of tired and didn’t feel any need to sleep. It was summer and in my house we preety much slept as we chose because we didn’t need to get up for school. I kept on finding things I’d rather do than sleep. I never noticed anything wrong. My Grandmother eventually forced me to go to bed. When I woke up I couldn’t remember the last two days. The thing is nobody would tell me what I did. Just that it was really strange.

  9. Around 50 hours. Typical of my teenage endeavors, the anguish it caused completely obviated my need to stay up that long.

  10. A week.

    Talk about hallucinating. Heh.

    Also, too much Knight Rider. Only thing on besides infomercials or Wings at 3am back then…

  11. neutronjockey – Jeff Richard (J.K.Richard) a.k.a. the neutronjockey, is a former nuclear mechanic supervisor and medical officer recruiter for the U.S. Navy. He was honorably discharged from military service in January of 2006. In his civilian life he is a digital artist, leathercraftsman, and writer living in Tulsa, OK. Occaisionally he commits to research work for SF/F authors. Jeff is owned by a gray Maine Coon cat while at home and three awesome horses while at the barn. <a href="http://neutronjockey.livejournal.com">I blog on LJ</a>
    J.K.Richard

    I have lived with chronic insomnia now for 7 years. So… I don’t think I can weigh in here giving my obvious “advantage.” I have to take medication regularly to get 4-5 hours of sleep a night (right, which works like a charm…and the reason why I’m typing a comment on Whatever instead of catching Zzzzs).

    However, my record was 98 hours, at which point I was hallucinating and had to be sedated.

    Thank goodness those days don’t come often.

  12. Hmm, I’m a chronic insomniac but not quite as bad as J.K. here, its mostly disturbed and short sleep rather than none at all….

    That said though, longest Ive gone is probably around 36-48 hours, doing the typical high school teenager thing of staying up all night playing video games drinking coffee and mountain dew, followed by ambling outside doing red-neckish things (I grew up in northeastern Oregon) and more video games when it got dark… nothing particularly profound…. don’t know how I used to be able to do that, wasn’t even that long ago (7 years roughly) yet at the fossilized age of 23 I now seem to be unable to pull an all nighter anymore… and Im in grad school where that skill is kinda handy.

  13. No sleep at all… probably about 48 hours.

    With damn all for sleep (maybe six hours, in pieces) about 80. That was tough.

    Longest on inadequate sleep… about eight weeks on an average of four hours a night. The hypnogogy was the worst. Having part of my brain dreaming while I was reading on how to protect myself from chemical attack was… strange.

  14. Roughly 72-96 hours.

    Survival Instructor Training with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. I had to accomplish about fifteen physical tasks, with no food and about 10 litres of water AND keep a campfire going ALL the time, which needed a lot of wood to be gathered.

    Doing that while hungry and sleep-deprived sucks. Forgive me if I don’t want to do that again.

  15. 60 hours, when I was 18. I was in London enrolled in a sort of summer course to improve my English. In practice there were some one hundred 18 to 23 year old students from Italy and other European countries living in a college residence in Southwark (McLaren House), and since we were all of age, we were basically free to do all we want after the classes.
    This went on for three weeks; in the end, I had found a group of really nice people (I remained in contact with some of them for years) and we were all aware that it was unlikely we could ever be all together again, so with only two days remaining, why sleep? Of course, not everyone stayed awake all the time, but I managed to do it.
    I woke up at 8.30 am on Thursday, I did not sleep that night, nor the following night and I did not sleep on the flight home. I collapsed in my living room at 9 pm on Saturday, and I slept for 16 hours.

    That was my longest time without any sleep. It happened to me to stay awake for about 80 hours, but with maybe 6-7 hours of sleep in pieces. I was 19, similar situation but with school friends. I doubt I could do it again now.

  16. Around 50, nearly the entire time being spent on a 3D project for a student show at college with two other people. By the end of it I was seeing objects as polygonal and my brain was working out the material attributes for their surfaces.

    When I finally went to sleep, I dreamed that I was continuing work on the project from where I left off, and was annoyed upon waking to discover that I didn’t get to keep any of the progress I’d made.

  17. I did a 48 hour straight shift at work once wwithout realising it (I just kept saying yes whenever there was a call on the radio for extra hours).[1] and I only realised I’d done it when my cow-orkers started trying to convince me to stay on extra hours. The bastards were running a book on how long I’d go before I started hallucinating and or passing out.

    [1]In retrospect I should have noticed something when five seperate people tried to log onto system using my call sign.

  18. Well. When the math exam started at 2:30 pm, I’d been up 35 hours. Leaving in disgust at 3:30, Because by the time I went to answer a question I’d forgotten it, the anger kept me up until some point between 10 PM and 1 AM.

    and I went for my entire third term of first year uni averaging 3 hours sleep. I forgot my own name for a moment on 2 rather frightening occasions.

    Longest I’ve /slept/.. Hee. 30 hours. Well. I slept for lots, got up for 20 minutes to go to the bathroom and have a quick bite to eat, then went back to sleep: I don’t really count that as waking. I felt /so/ relaxed afterwards.. pure bliss.

  19. ruzkin – I was born in Hong Kong in '85 and knew by the age of six that I wanted to be a writer. People spent the next fifteen years telling me it was impossible. Fifteen years too late, I've told them to shove it. I live in Melbourne, study Industrial Design, work in a bookshop and write every day. One day I'll crack the market. You're welcome to wait and watch for as many years as that takes.
    Chris Hayes-Kossmann

    50 hours, about, without coffee or drugs. I was working as a stuntman for an advertisement shoot that ran for two straight days with a short break during lunch on the second day, but I had to go work in the bookshop during the break, so instead of sleeping I sold books like a zombie before catching a tram back to the shoot and then had to do the last stunts (all driving shots and chase cam sequences) with my eyes half closed and the road wobbling all over the place.
    I relied on fresh orange juice. It’s scary how much energy you can get from the sugar.

  20. Approximately 60 hours recently.

    Eighty-some hours is probably the longest I’ve ever gone and the hallucinations aren’t too bad. It’s dreaming while awake. Trippy, really.

  21. I managed about 3.5 days in the Army. I was actually too busy to to do much hallucinating. The last half-day was pretty hellish though. After the mission was over, I crashed for almost 24 hours straight.

  22. I’ve done several 48+ hour days over the years.
    If you count periods that probably included microsleep and definitely included lying there with my eyes shut trying desperately to go to sleep, then the second quarter of my year of grad school included several days in the 60-70 hour range due to intractable insomnia and having a roommate who had dropped out but hadn’t yet left the dorm.

  23. Around 60 hours. This is when I was flying a submersible remotely operated vehicle off of a drilling rig, while landing the subsea stack in 7,000 ft of water. Y’see, the ROV acts as the camera platform so this monstrous 20,000 lb chunk of metal being lowered on the end of a string of pipe doesn’t get twisted around. Losing this multi million dollar chunk of gear would be a BAD THING.
    We did this routinely. Being a camera platform, you have to keep the vehicle perfectly still while decending ever so slowly. Sort of like hovering a helicopter in a stiff and ever changing wind. Three man crew, and everyone has to stay awake all the time. And take a rotation in being the pilot, copilot, and navigator/winch operator. We used to have singalongs to stay awake.
    Even more fun is doing it in reverse, while evacuating the rig for a hurricane. The ROV crew is the last to leave, along with the skipper of the ship and the driller.

  24. I’ve done ~60 hours maybe two dozen times. College studt, marathon hot mammal sex episodes, cross country driving, Army field problems, and natural disasters. Medicated best was about 80 hours when I found out that Vicodin makes me hyper.

  25. Might not be the longest, but the most recent was this past Sunday to Tuesday – got up @930, went to work on Sunday got home at @ 11pm, instead of bed ended up watching 8 episodes of “The Wire” – oops its now 7 am and time for work again – after work went to a Pat McGee band concert so didn’t get back to dreamland until 1230 am Tuesday morning.

  26. pkstephens – Hi! I'm Patrick Stephens! You can contact me at web@psjs.net. I've written on issues ranging from Cloning and Stem-cell research to Foreign Policy and issues of justice in war, to environmentalism, urban transportation, and the Elian Gonzalez tragedy of 2000. I've spoken across the country to national and local audiences of legislators, college professors, policy professionals, students, and businessmen on bioethics, welfare reform, transportation policy, environmentalism, affirmative action and improvisation. I do not ride a motorcycle.
    Patrick

    My longest was a little over 80 hours. From Friday morning through Monday evening. It was simple insomnia, no party, no excitement, just a lot of not sleeping. By Monday afternoon I was feeling pretty weird. I ended it by drinking enough that I passed out. Ugh. I’ve done 50+ a bunch of times for various reasons, but anything over 70 just ends up freaking me out.

  27. Somewhere around 35 hours here. I was in the Navy and it all kinda blurs. I avoided looking at the clock the whole time, and I was below decks so I had no idea if was day or night. It was strange and weird and I never want to do it again.

  28. Adderal is an amphetamine and that means I’m disqualified, but… in truth I’ve never made it more than about 40-46 hours. My sleepiness is so strong, in fact, I fell asleep just last night less than an hour after drinking a red bull… by which I mean 3 red bulls.

  29. I’m not sure I can figure it out because of the time zone changes.

    Wake up in Irwin, PA Monday at 6:00 AM EST (UTC -5) for a 9:00 AM flight from Latrobe Airport (now Arnold Palmer Regional Airport) to PIT. 11:45 AM flight to JFK. Overnight flight from JFK to Brussels on which sleep is impossible due to the chatty 13-year-old girl in the seat next to me who has to tell me everything about her life, her vacation, her school, her family, her friends… Spend the day in Brussels with friends, then catch a 6:00 PM CEST (UTC +1) flight to Rome. 9:00 PM CEST departure from Rome is delayed until after midnight because of an air traffic controller work action (because, you know, it’s Rome). Land in Johannesburg Wednesday at about 1:00 PM SAST (UTC +2) and after clearing customs and immigration get home at about 3:30 PM. By which time my internal clock is so screwed up I just stay up until about 10.

    So if my math is right, that’s about 57 hours — 11:00 AM UTC Monday to 8:00 PM UTC Wednesday.

  30. About 36 hours a few times. The last that I can recall was in college. I was finishing my Experimental Psych final paper with the rest of my classmates.

    That was surprisingly fun.

  31. Personally, somewhere between 36 and 48 hours, with a little help from caffeine, when I was in college. I’m an insomniac, so 18 to 24 hours is . . . less than unusal for me.

    Now, when I was in high school, and our psychology teacher mentioned what the record was for going without sleep (~7 days, I think), my buddy Nick decided he was going to break that record. He made it to 3.5 days before he face-planted in his tray at lunch, and he didn’t come to school the next day, either.

  32. Like you, about 80 hours. I was trying to finish my new house for final inspection so I could close it. The entire living room and kitchen tile floors weren’t grouted yet. The bathroom wasn’t tiled, along with its tub walls. Also, none of the carpeting. So, during the day, I roofed. At night, I tiled and did carpeting all night. And yes, I started hallucinating. The tiles…they moved by themselves…the carpet changed colors….

  33. I had to stay up for 48 hours to do a sleep study when I was a teenager, studying night terrors and violent sleepwalking. After staying up that long, the researchers attached sticky things to my head and chest, and I couldn’t sleep for another 12 hours or so. It annoyed the crap out of the doctors, and I did get a little loopy, but I don’t recall hallucinations.

    Recently, I stayed up 36 hours while driving cross-country, with the final 24 hours a straight drive home. I listened to audiobooks the whole way, and I still remember some of the stuff that I listened to as actually happening to me, so maybe it wasn’t the best idea.

  34. From a Sunday morning to a Wednesday early evening. Around 80 hours. When I brought home my twins from the hospital after they were born till when the help could arrive. (Twins were unexpectedly early.) I’m sure I nodded off, but not for more than 5 or 10 minutes. Absolutely the worst days of my entire life–hands down.

  35. I’m not entirely sure. There was a week where I ended up working around a 120 hour period with *effectively* zero sleep, but I know there was around six or seven hours of naps in there at various stages, I just don’t know when they happened, exactly. I think the first (and longest) nap was aroundabout the 70-hour mark, but couldn’t be sure.

    While I quite often operate on ridiculously small amounts of sleep (and, conversely, sometimes operate on ridiculously large amounts of sleep), I think the only times I go long periods on no sleep at all are when I’m travelling, because I find it almost impossible to sleep on planes – if it’s a european carrier they’ll serve me enough booze, but I can never squeeze enough wine out of you yankee bastards. Trips to America routinely see me hitting 30-40 hours.

  36. Right around 74 hours. Stupid army stuff. By the end of it, I was hallucinating badly and coming unglued. The captain in charge of the exercise sent me back to the barracks and told me to return once I had some sleep…which was thoughtful of him. I don’t think he counted on me sleeping for almost 30 hours.

  37. With nothing stronger than caffeine, about forty hours, give or take a few minutes. That was when I was twenty-one, and I spent a weekend hanging out at a con. I was just about to drift off to sleep when some yahoo pulled a fire alarm handle. The adrenaline rush from helping to evacuate the hotel kept me awake another three or four hours. That and rushing out into the November chill in shorts and a wifebeater.

  38. Purposefully: In law school, close to 36 hours while cramming all night for a civil procedure final, then taking the four-hour final immediately after. I was doing good for the first two hours, but then the caffeine started to wear off and I started shaking and sweating. Still finished with a decent grade.

    Not purposefully: Not sure exactly. I stressed completely out my last semester of my joint JD/MA (Russian History) program because of all the projects I had due in two departments that didn’t coordinate with each other, plus had to get ready for the national trial competition. I never got more than two hours of fitful sleep some nights for a week. Started having mild hallucinations and my personality changed some. Came out of it ok, but would NEVER want to repeat it again.

  39. I’m not sure exactly, but at least 2.5 days. I was returning from Perth, Australia to Detroit. I was going to be in the air over 24 hours, and it’s either the next day or the day before, 12 hours off, so I was trying to just stay awake so long that I would pass out and when I got home, I’d be able to shoehorn myself back into my timezone.

    I waited until they fed us a meal on the 15 hour Sydney to LA leg, then just as I was falling asleep, the nice lady next to me spilled her (thankfully cold) coffee all over me handing it to the steward.

    The difference between Quantas and a US airline? The steward gave me a bottle of whiskey for not throwing a fit when I got dumped on.

  40. I made it about 70 hours in my (first) bout w/ college. Somehow I ended up w/ 3 term papers and 2 timed essays. (Yay for liberal arts!) By the time I got to the last timed essay, it was hard to find the lines in the blue book. I think I did okay on the essay in terms of coherency, but bless the poor person who managed to read my handwriting.

  41. I would say prolly 36 hours.
    It entailed when I moved to Austria and had no sleep on the plane and was to excited to sleep the night before. Upon arriving in Vienna on New Year’s Eve I was quickly ushered to town to drop off my luggage and then procceded to a New Years Eve party which lasted all night. And ugh…IT WAS FUN!

  42. A hundred and thirty-eight hours; my boss made it to hundred and forty hours. Several others dropped at two or three days, took a nap, and came back. We probably should have. We were in college, and had to build a radio station in a hurry. The station was in the basement of a large building, so we had no daylight, which probably helped. The staff kept us supplied with pizza and coffee. I passed out under the production studio console and woke up a couple of days later in the student hospital (as did my boss, who dropped in the main studio.) We’d made ~20,000 three-wire connections, with three errors, one of which wasn’t discovered for several years. (I suspect that there were other errors that were corrected that we were not informed of.)

    There were reasons that the station couldn’t have been worked on in the proceeding five weeks that produced this insane construction orgy. Not good reasons, but that’s the way the world is sometimes. We were on the air when we were supposed to be!

  43. From a Tuesday morning to Thursday night…

    Assuming I woke up at 9, which was usual for Tuesdays that year, and I know that I went right to the Math Centre on campus, skipped classes for three days, probably 2.5 hours per day out of there for food runs, and then had my lecture at 4:30 on Thursday, so I was in that room for 50/55.5 hours in that stretch, awake for all of them. Then gave the lecture, went to marching practice, and drank heavily, passing out at midnight and sleeping until saturday.

    So about 63 hours, with a lecture near the end (to my prof, another prof, and two post-docs in a research seminar, with me as an undergrad. Ugly). During the lecture, was writing on the chalkboard with my right hand, whilst my left opened and closed uncontrollably from caffeine/sleep dep.

  44. A friend and I spent 60 hours trying to finish a compiler construction project for college. We got a B. Though in truth drugs stronger than caffeine entered into it sometime after hour 50.

  45. I used to routinely drive from Evanston IL to Greensboro NC, 18.5 hours of straight driving, plus the awake work time on either side — so thirty to forty hours. Today that would hurt. What did hurt once was a 24-hour drive from Champaign IL to Orlando FL. Driving halfway down the length of Florida was hellish. Advantage goes to mountain driving, because you have something to do. Long straight interstates with the cruise control on, not so much to do.

    Then there were a series of 48-hour plus train trips where not much sleeping got done during the night. Good times in college.

    And for my first college test I said, “This is college, pull an all-nighter.” So I did. Fell asleep for twenty minutes in the middle of the test. Didn’t fall for that trick again. (grin)

    However, even though I did get some sleep, the most sleep deprived experiment I ever experienced was the six weeks of the 2004 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop. Never have I worked so hard for so long with so little sleep. Survived by eating bags of Hershey miniatures and drinking Coke, and taking short naps before either going back to critting the stories or pounding the keyboard for my new stories.

    Someone on NPR was talking the other day about how sleep deprivation is used on some of the reality shows, like Survivor or Top Chef in order to spur conflict and get people to make dramatic mistakes. Gee, you think? (evil grin)

    Dr. Phil

  46. I think it was 23 hours, more or less. It happened when I was working third shift, and we had some sort of department meeting that lasted much longer than it needed to. As I remember, by the time I got home, I was not in a particularly good mood.

  47. I studied 16h straight once (after spending a week studying 10h average, with 5 or so hours sleep per night). I saw a blue gnome. Swear.

  48. 70 hours. In junior year of high school. I was escorted to the nurse’s office when I ran out of the cafeteria ranting about the blue flames that were crawling up the walls.

    I remember why I stayed up that late now. I probably had a good reason at the time. On the other hand, for reasons that still puzzle me, the student body elected the crazy geek who’d run out of the cafeteria screaming about the burning walls to be head of the student body four weeks later.

    Maybe they hoped I’d share whatever drugs I’d been on?

  49. 76 hours for me, though I did it about a half-dozen times while finishing up college. I was training my body for military service, which didn’t pan out… I nearly hit 77 once, but then made the mistake of watching the remake of Carrie – and conked out.

  50. I do something near 36 hours whenever I fly home. I have a really hard time sleeping before 3 in the morning (I work ’till midnight and I’m a night-owl so I have a weird sleep pattern to begin with) so if I have to take an early flight it’s easier for me to just stay up than try to sleep. Sometimes I can sleep on the plane, but usually I just stay up until 9 or 10 the next night.

    I did have one day (my eighteenth birthday actually) that was slightly longer than that and almost all within the same day. It was my longest birthday ever! Was on a class trip to France and it was the day we came back to the States. We were up at something like 5 or 6 that morning and then travelled all day on bus/plane/plane/bus/car. Between getting up so early and the time zone changes it was a very long very weird day.

  51. dompaul – I'm an editor at a small-town paper. And occasionally, I like to fool myself into thinking I'm a novelist.
    D.Paul

    Four days straight the week before finals while in my freshman year of college as a graphic design major. For art majors at my college, the week before finals is when portfolios are due, and it’s always a mad rush. So, lots of coffee and cigarettes (that was back when you could smoke in dorm rooms and lounges), a few hallucinations, and then sleeping for 27 hours.

  52. Longest I’ve done: 42 hours, freshman year of college at Purdue. I did a research paper for my political science class during this time— and I only know this because I got the graded paper back the next week with an A, and an inquiry as to whether I’d consider changing majors.

    I do *not* remember writing that paper.

  53. (I figured I should amend that I am one of those crazy people who never sleep much and don’t seem to need more than 4 hours in any 30 or so hour period to function fine. Maybe I’m an ugly DnD elf or something.)

  54. Just over 40 hours, multiple times. Mostly using the wonderful “pasta, with a creamy cheese/ham/pea sauce” a swakeywakey fuel (supplemented by tea). One ends up with bizarre, hard-to-understand and surprisingly well-working code at that stage.

    I also sleptr ca 4 hours per night, 5 nights per week (around 6-8 hours over weekends) for 11 months. The auditory hallicunations stop bothering you after a few months (they don’t go away, but I got used to them). I suspect I might’ve snagged more sleep thanks to micro-naps, since I found myself zoning out unless I was active (so any break in conversation during breakfast usually caused at least one dropped spoon around the table).

  55. I had a sleep disorder where I could not sleep without a sleep aid and I stayed in that condition trying organic supplements for about 3 months before I got really depressed and decided to take something allopathic. It was the depression that caused it and lack of sleep worsened my condition. Glad to know that 80 hrs made you hallucinate because my functioning was compromised not to the level of hallucination but I was aggravated all the time and couldn’t exercise because I was lethargic. I am very healthy now as I removed the stressor causing the depression from my life and now I am happy:)

  56. Continuously, without any sleep: about thirty-seven hours, back when I was in the army as a conscript. I had several other “little or no sleep for long whiles” periods during that year, but usually there was always the quarter of an hour to snatch some sleep; this time, there was none.

    I don’t really want to repeat the experience.

  57. Longest sans chemical assistance: nearly 74 hours, on what should have been a routine return flight from Frankfurt to L.A. Too keyed up to sleep the night before, so read ’til dawn, then slid out early for the final Fresh Baked Stuff Run of the vacation. Late night flight out of Frankfurt delayed by insertion of forklift forks into side of L-1011A (oops); next available aircraft for budget charter company ~12-16 hours hence. Roamed airport all night on nervous energy, commented on untoward baggage handling sometime dawn-ish with aid of a megaphone(!); boarded replacement plane ~10:40 CET.

    Anyone remember the British Air Traffic Controller strike?

    Sweltered en masse on runway 4.5 hours, take-off permission finally granted. Crowded flight, heavy on the small children.

    Touchdown very sudden in Minneapolis, crew swarming up wings w/ hand-carried ladders almost before wheels were chocked == double-plus ungood. Seems we had lost an engine about five, six hundred miles back. Herr Luftzeug, er fliegt nicht weiter hinab.

    Did I mention “charter airline”? No replacements available here at all – this is where we refuel and take off, nicht wahr? Not to worry, we are negotiating w/ other airlines to get your butts home; would people travelling w/ small children and/or the Behinderte (= handicapped) please queue for the first available transport outbound? [Watch 300 of 495 people crowd toward announcer, (nearly) all prepping their particular lame excuse – or excuse for lameness…]

    Second^Wthird flight out will take us … weather permitting. Minneapolis/StPaul had a gorgeous terminal in ’78 — glass windows on three sides gave a fantastic view of the thunderstorm in progress. Pyrotechnics, yowza!

    Shuffle onto plane, which cannot depart until either: a) radar repaired & functioning, or b) WX clears for visual takeoff (well after dark?). Whatever. But can’t stay at terminal, other planes need to yadda yadda yadda, so we taxi out into the power and majesty. Crewmen still working on radar, panels opened in aft section which did not hold viands for in-flight service —

    KZAK!

    Crewmen is flung across galley, curses almost as loud as lightning bolt which just struck us. Stews rushing up and down, ready to quell panic but finding none; one spots me and pours equal quantities of champagne onto myself, my seat, and into my glass, while screaming sotto voce: “What is WRONG with these people? They just got hit b-b-by…”

    “And all of us are too damned tired to care. About ANYTHING. Thank you.”

    Made it home in time to realize that, being over a day late, I had missed the formal admissions date and would have to finagle mightily to get my senior classes nailed down. Better start preparing my story while it’s still fresh…

    Frankfurt to L.A. in just under thirty-six hours and three aircraft. Believe me, I tried to sleep — or failing that, to snuff consciousness in alcohol — but couldn’t manage to do either.

    ____

    [Condor Airllines, Sep. 1977; flight #1182 IIANM]

  58. Around 80 hours was mine too. I decided it was time to go to bed when I saw a bone-white sparrow fly out of a wall, heard and felt it flap past my ear, then enter the wall behind me.

  59. My longest was about 65 hours on a role playing con when I was 29 (oh those were the days! crap 14 years ago…). The last two hours on driving home on the motorway.
    Creepy when the hallucinations set in(nothing wild, only a shift in perspective, so the cars on the opposite lane seemed to be on my lane, coming straight ahead my way o_O).
    That was the time I drove off the highway, made it somehow to some friends in one piece and crashed for 15 hours sleep straight.
    It´s a unique feeling when a RPG fight with a fire elemental feels like the real thing…

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