Novel Completion Queries, Day Sixteen

Is the novel finished: NO

Today’s question: What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever slept, from head down on the pillow to head up? “Sleep” in this case meaning actual sleep, not a coma, trauma-induced unconsciousness or any such thing (actual sleep related to things like colds and flus totally count, however).

My answer: In high school, I stayed up for four days (not 96 hours, but through four calendar days) and finally went to sleep when I started hallucinating. I put my head down on Friday night and woke up on Sunday morning. Since when I woke up my bladder wasn’t exploding (and my bed was not damp and smelly) I assume that at some point I got up to use the bathroom, but if I did I have absolutely no memory of it. So: About 30 hours, more or less.


49 Comments on “Novel Completion Queries, Day Sixteen”

  1. About 17 hours, thanks to a case of the flu, or pneumonia. I can’t recall which. Although the flu one did give me a nice case of temporal hallucinations when combined with all the meds the doc gave me.

  2. When I came back to the States from my tour in Korea, I slept for about 24 hours straight. As far as I know, I didn’t get up during that time. It took me a while to get over that case of jet lag.

  3. Probably never more than twelve or fourteen hours at a stretch, even when sick. Sleeping more than that makes me feel just awful.

    John, given your stated aversion to various substances which might explain your four-day high school adventure–what the hell were you doing?! I have trouble imagining anything in my life that would have kept me up that long, barring life-threatening situations. No amount of paper/exam-study procrastination could ever motivate me THAT much.

  4. Anonydude:

    I had tests, but I was also just curious as to how long I could stay awake. You can do stuff like that when you’re seventeen.

  5. Since sickness-induced sleep (apart from an actual coma) counts, the longest I’ve slept is 34 hours.

    Non-sickness induced sleep: roughly 20 hours – I think.

  6. 22 Hours. It was when I was 11 or 12, I was sick with some sort of virus. I remember going to bed at about 8 PM and waking up to the sounds of dinner being made the next day.

  7. TLDR: About 24 hours.

    After finishing my army training (a messy one year ordeal, let’s not discuss it), I was sent to the division HQ. After formally arriving and filling out all the forms, they assigned me as readiness squad – the people who just need to be ready to defend the base at any time. Since, to my knowledge, all I had to do was be at the guards’ room and nothing else, and this was about 19:00, I went there and, being tired from travelling half the country, I went to sleep. My sleep was troubled and intermittent but I only really got out of that bed at roughly the same time the next evening.

  8. about 48 hours i think

    Was a child about 8, went over to a sleep over one weekend during summer(2 day sleep over or somthing) and both nights i never slept, being too hyped up on pizza, cake and sodas to care about sleep as a kid, monday morning parents come by to pick me up, fell asleep in the back of the car, woke up Wednesday wondering what happened. (according to my parents they woke me up to give me food or somthing, but i went right back to sleep.)

  9. Basic Training I came down with pneumonia. No idea how long I was out, but a couple of days are gone. Lost 15 pounds in a few days and couldn’t pass a PT test for about a month. The drill sergeants paperworked me through so I went to AIT with everyone else.

    Longest I’ve ever stayed awake, straight, was about 40 hours in high school. “You can do stuff like that when you’re seventeen.” Indeed. In the Army, in Korea, on Team Spirit 86, I went for a week on 2 hours sleep a night.

  10. I was absolutely slobberknocked by jet lag after a work trip to Germany, and when I got home I slept for about 20 hours solid.

  11. Fourteen hours or so. I had pulled the last of an intermittent series of all-nighters and finished up my Experimental Psych final paper. Slept like the dead from around 5AM to 7-ish. Had a large dinner, stayed up late, then went to bed that night.

    Oddly, the longest I’d ever been continually awake wasn’t until 2010, when my wife was in labor with our first child. 30-something hours, start to finish, and I had it *easy* compared to her.

  12. 20 hours. I had a bad cold, took some cold medicine and was lights out into late afternoon the next day. Man, that was something.

  13. About 40 hours. Had malaria and amoebic dysentery while doing fieldwork, and hadn’t slept properly in days. Finally passed out on thursday around lunch, woke up around 1 or 2 in the morning on Saturday. At that point I was on a glucose drip, and had pretty much nothing left in me.

  14. I think I made 9 or 10 hours once. I generally sleep about 6 – 7 hours, so 9 – 10 seems like a lifetime.

  15. The summer between high school and college, I went on a choir tour of Europe. The last two weeks of the tour I averaged 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night. The trip home involved missed flights due to an air traffic controller’s slow down and turned twelve hours of travel into two days. When I finally got home, I hit the bed at 8:00 pm and Dad woke me up the next afternoon at 5:30 pm. He was worried I would wet the bed.

  16. About 22 hours for me, I had the Asian flu in college. Longest awake continuously was about 74 hours in Vietnam. Every time I started to fall asleep something kept me awake – I think it was the VC, or maybe NVA.

  17. Six hours is my average; anything between five and seven I consider normal for me, though it’s mostly no longer than six hours.
    My parents always told me even as a kid I slept little.

    In other words, I seriously doubt I ever slept more than eight hours straight. Even when I eas young and very often skipped a night’s sleep I never slept any longer the day after.

    Mind you, I never tried to stay awake.for four calender days; between forty and fifty hours must have been the longest I was ever awake on purpose. (I do have occasional bouts of serious sleeplessness but I won’t count those.)

  18. No real records set for sleeping, but as far as doing things while asleep …

    I had a job in college where I slept at a retirement home, and residents could wake me up if they needed help. Once I went to sleep at the job, and woke up in my bed at home. I got up, climbed into my car, and drove home without ever “waking”. I don’t remember why I was so tired, and I was completely disoriented when I did wake up, Then I was terrified when I realized what happened, Fortunately, it was a small town and the incident occurred at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning, so there was no traffic (literally none). It never happened to me again.

  19. I had salmonella. For reasons I won’t elaborate, this had me up out of bed every 90 minutes or so for five days, regardless of what medication I took. In between, I sort of dozed, but it wasn t very restful because I was pretty much half awake the whole time, to make sure I could get out of bed in time when the 90 minutes or so rolled around again.

    When my gut finally settled down, I passed out and slept straight through 47 hours. I may have sleepwalked to pee, but I may also not have, since salmonella is extremely dehydrating. When I woke up, I was hngrier and thirstier than I have ever been, before or since. And scared to have more than a glass of electrolyte fluids and a couple crackers with half a banana.

    My advice: don’t get salmonella.

  20. I did almost exactly the same thing as our esteemed host (nearly 4 days awake/three all-nighters, followed by sleeping Friday night to Sunday morning), although in my case it was in college during finals, not high school. The hallucinations started while I was driving home, which was fun (for extremely small values of ‘fun’).

    I was commuting to school at the time, and my parents didn’t notice a thing. When I emerged from my basement bedroom on Sunday morning, they assumed I was returning from a weekend camping trip.

  21. As an insomniac, I can truly tell you that I can barely get in seven hours and that is WITH Ambien. Sorry, I just can’t help you out here because I have never Rip Van Winkled.

  22. About 16 hours, after a 30-hour stint in the lab trying to reduce the last trace of a C-C double bond in a sample of optically active methyl 1-propenyl sulfoxide. (I know that sounds like gibberish, but it was a vital link in my PhD research, and it meant a lot to me at the time.)

  23. In college, I used to stay up writing papers for 3 or 4 days on coffee and no-doze (do they still even make that?) and then sleep 18 hours after I turned the paper in. Didn’t get visual hallucinations, but got weird unpleasant sensations all over my skin.

    Also in college it was discovered that I could lie in my sleep — friends would come in to wake me for class, and I’d have conversations with them, thanking them and saying I’d be right out. Didn’t remember any of that — when I woke up later (and late) I’d yell at them for not waking me!

  24. I don’t remember actual hours probably because I was too tired to pay attention to what time I put my head down. Maybe 18 hours?

    Sickness has been a factor for extended sleep. As has staying awake for extended periods.

    In college, after staying awake for two or three days as I scrambled to finish projects or study, I fell asleep in my dorm’s second floor lounge area. Apparently I was sleeping soundly enough to call attention to myself. Several other students pulled cushions off the furniture, piled them on top of me, then sat on me. It was only when three or four of them started bouncing that I woke up. Another time I slept through my alarm so soundly that the dorm’s Director used the master key to enter my room to turn it off. She thought I had been out and left the alarm on. Scared us both. There was another incident involving paint cans and window screens. I slept through that.

    I’m too old for that stuff now. And I’m a mom, so I usually get up even when I’m sick.

  25. @ Bryan L. “Fortunately, it was a small town and the incident occurred at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning, so there was no traffic” – Unfortunately, that doesn’t always help; in my village on the Sunday before last Xmas an 18-yo died in a car crash, no other traffic involved at 5.30 am as well. He was local and knew the area (in fact, grandson in the family that owns the local garage)(Local news report here).

    No sleep anecdote to lighten the comment… I doubt I have ever gone over about ten hours, even after all-nighters writing essays (which I used to do at university). But maybe I mis-remember.

  26. Somewhere between 36 and 40 hours. In my defense, I was getting over chicken pox and coming down with mononucleosis.

  27. My freshman year in college, only a few weeks after my 18th birthday, I went for 7 days on a grand total of 4 hours of sleep spread over that 4 days. Amazingly, I don’t think I slept that long when I finally did, though. I think my longest sleep was probably sometime in the last couple of years, where I had to work nearly two days straight through to meet a carved-in-stone deadline, and then fell in bed with only probably a bathroom trip or two for well over 24 hours. I actually think I can sleep longer now than I could when I was a teenager, which is strange, since I’m over 60.

  28. I had mononucleosis when I was in college. I don’t know how long I slept, but apparently I hadn’t come in to work for a few days and they were concerned. All I remember was snapping out of my fugue while standing at my front door. A co-worker had stopped by to see if I was alright. I had no recollection for the past several days. I got so behind in my classwork that I couldn’t finish the semester. It was a mess.

  29. I’ve done about 18 hours a few times, from the flu or mono, and once from a medication I will never ever take again. Because I was awake yet completely stoned for about 6 hours, and then slept for another 6. It was Monday and then all of a sudden it was Wednesday.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been awake for more than about 28-30 hours, though… and not since I’ve been over 30. I never could sleep sitting up till I was past 45, but now I can grab catnaps that way if the chair is comfy enough, and it’s really helpful and surprisingly restful. I can’t sleep on planes, even with pills.

  30. Something on the order of 36-40 hours, thanks to what I was told at the time was a case of mono, but was actually hepatitis A (as my doctor told me about six or seven years later).

  31. I was up working on a design project for 3 days straight (about halfway through some kind soul got me a cup of McDonald’s coffee, my only break). By the time I was done hunching over the drafting board, I was only able to walk like Groucho Marx. I made it home, with every other step being “ow!!” Since I was unable to straighten my back, one of my roomies donated some Flexoril. I fell asleep about 6 that night and woke up again around 11 the following day.

  32. 22 hours, but I’m guessing here. I’m a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. In 2006, my friends somehow persuaded folks that I should be made a Laurel, which is the SCA’s highest award for excellence in Arts & Sciences. The ceremony took place at the Pennsic War, which is a massive two week event. We’d arrived at Pennsic several days before then & I was pretty much running on adrenalin from the day we hit camp to the end of the ceremony, several days later. I returned to camp that evening & fell into bed, somewhere between 10 and midnight. I don’t remember the next day at all. I vaguely recall picking my head up from the pillow towards evening & hearing friends discuss getting ready for a fancy party I’d been given an invite. I remember thinking I should get up & dressed, then dropping my head back on the pillow. By the time I fully wake up, it’s dark, and everbody has returned to camp from whatever parties they’d gone to. Ever since then, my standard bit of advice to folks about to go through the same sort of experience at Pennsic is “Don’t make plans for the next day”.

  33. I got mono after my freshman year of college, and one day I slept 20 hours. I once went a week on about seven hours of sleep because I had a research paper due and had not started it until six days before it was due. I got really sick with a cold or something, and although a slept a lot over the next few days, I don’t think I did more than twelve at one stretch. Come to think of it, I did that sleepless week about two months before I got mono. Connection?

  34. About 16 hours. And I would haven’t gotten up then if the platoon leader hadn’t made me, :).

    This was after being up for 98 hours straight as part of a test in the Army. They wanted to see what happened when a squad of infantrymen had to move and fight for 4 days running.

    Like Scalzi, I was hallucinating by the time it ended. Before they trucked us backed to the barracks, I was seeing non-existent OPFORS ‘enemy’ soldiers behind every bush and tree and firing blanks at them.

  35. When I was 26, after 5 days awake (24 hours per day), I slept 90 minutes, got up for another 24 hours, then slept 8 hours. (What can I say, it was a great convention.) I think the longest I’ve slept straight through was about 12 hours. Can’t do either, now.

  36. I think it was about 20 hours after a Big Weekend. I went from 7am Friday to 10pm Sunday, went to sleep and woke up the next evening. It remains one of the best weekends of my life :D

  37. About 27 hours. Same as Scalzi. I stayed up three days straight finishing my Junior year term paper at prep school, fueled by Vivarin, coffee, Coca Cola and Marlboro Reds. 100+ pages on the My Lai massacre and its aftermath. I blew off soccer practice after I turned in the paper on Friday afternoon, intending to take a nap and wake up for the Friday night movie. I woke up as my corridor mates were headed out a bit before 7 PM. Turned out they were heading to the Saturday night movie.

  38. In college it wasn’t unusual on weekends to go to bed around 2:30 AM and wake up about 5pm the next day. So about 14 hours. I always felt a little guilty about it and meals would come at odd times. These days, though, if I sleep 8 hours I feel lucky.

  39. After about 12 hours of sleep I have to get up and use the loo, and stretch my back. I can totally go back to sleep after though. However I regularly do so, mmmm sleep.

  40. I developed my first macular hole about 10 years ago. Corrective surgery takes no time, but the rehab requires the patient to spend three – four weeks facedown in a harness 24/7. I had three surgeries over the course of several years, no sleeping on my back or side for months afterward. I didn’t get more than catnaps during the first two and was delusional enough to terrify my caregivers (and me). By the time the third surgery was scheduled, I pretty much insisted on serious drugs to get through the recovery. I think somewhere along the line, I either forgot how to sleep or was so terrified of shifting while I was sleeping and screwing up my vision that I haven’t been able to get a real night’s sleep without chemical assistance since.

    My dearest wish is 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

  41. Fall of 1986, I took the Greyhound from Cornell to Oberlin to visit my sister for Thanksgiving. According to Google, it’s a 5 hour drive, but I remember the bus trip taking at least 20 hours. Couldn’t sleep at all on the bus, and was already sleep-derived, so I basically slept for 24 hours when I got there.

  42. about 25 hours – I came home one day in high school not feeling quite well, told my Mom I was taking a nap … and woke up about 25 hours later, feeling fine and thinking I’d had the world’s best 1-hour nap. It was very disorienting to discover that I’d lost an entire day.

  43. 20 hours or so – this was after about 48 hours of driving and packing and driving and packing as my immediate family and grandmother consolidated households at a new location about 30 miles south from where we were living.

    Second place is a two-way tie at 15 hours for the aftermaths of both ends of a San Francisco-London transatlantic flight. At least it got the jet lag out of the way.

  44. I was 7 and the family had just flown back in the evening from Vancouver at the end of a 2 week cruise to Hawaii.My sister and I fell into bed and were astounded to wake up at 2 in the afternoon the next day.

    My longest time awake, like others here, was courtesy of the army. I was convinced one of our instructors, playing opfor, was wandering through our camp on my late night watch. Two guys on my squad got up early to patrol around camp and prove to me that no one was there, and hung around until I wound down enough to sleep. I wish I could thank them for doing so, and keeping me from waking everyone else up.

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