Signs of Strength and Frailty

During our senior year of high school, GWJ member DrunkenSleipnir and I took it upon ourselves to determine just how long we could remain awake. We set our respective alarms for 6:00 AM on Wednesday morning, and when we awoke we held a chat over ICQ prior to departing for school. While at school we kept a vigil on one another, but between school hours we used phone calls and ICQ messages as a means to ensure and document our waking status. I did not sleep again until 1:00 AM Saturday, for a grand total of 67 hours. By the time I went to bed I was an absolute wreck, but I was warmed by my triumph over my own mortal limits in the way that only a youth of 17 years can be.

When I got to college I made the mistake of bragging to my roommate about this great feat of endurance. He then proceeded to stay up for exactly 67 hours, 45 minutes. The blow to my ego was exquisite.

Four days ago I decided to reclaim my rightful title. With the staff of GWJ functioning as my online witnesses and with plenty of games on hand to keep me awake, I began counting the minutes and the hours. What follows is a retrospective account of how it all went down.

Hours 1-6: Sanjuro commented that "This thing is going to be the equivalent of Phil Zimbardo locking himself into a jail cell. This is gonna be fun." I have no idea what he was talking about; all I know is that he was eagerly anticipating taking delight in my pain. Sanjuro may seem a nice guy -- or not, depending -- but behind the mask he's just as brutal as the most egregious villains in all of history... or even Certis for that matter.

Certis suggested that I "have sex in the heat of the day with a lamb on a hiking trail!" Not sure what that was all about, but I'll keep it in mind.

Games played: Apprentice with DrunkenSleipnir

Hours 7-12: Elysium cautioned me about alcohol, and how the merest sip of it could prove to be my undoing. Sounded like he was speaking from hard experience!

Fletcher uttered the first of what would prove to be a long series of attempts to exacerbate my pain:

Fletcher1138 wrote:

Oh boy, I just got home from grocery shopping! Wow that was exhausting! And then I popped into Wal-Mart and there were crying babies and the fluorescent lighting was so bright it gave me a headache. I think I'll go lie down and rest a bit. Or take a hot bath. Or fall asleep in front of the TV. Maybe have some red wine? Dare I? Oh why not. Splurge a little.

Good luck Lobo!

Meanwhile I steeped some tea for my first of many infusions of caffeine. I did some database work and watched some poor-quality boxing matches on HBO to compensate for the fact that the Tyson fight was Pay-Per-View only. Fletcher, keen as ever, observed, "Man don't those fighters look tired? I bet they'd kill for a nap."

Games played: None

Hours 13-18: Elysium attempted to trick me into playing an Electronic Arts game. Good thing I was on my guard! It will take me years to plot commensurate revenge for this savage and unprovoked attack upon my dignity.

I began to grow tired. Spunior sent me messages from Europe to keep me company while the rest of my continent slumbered.

Games played: More Apprentice with DrunkenSleipnir

Hours 19-24: I played with some of my old Diablo 2 characters for a bit. On previous occasions when I had attempted to stay awake, Diablo 2 was my game of choice, since it requires a minimum of mental expenditure and a maximum of physical exertion (i.e., constant clicking of the mouse). This time though, I decided to try a different method, and so I abandoned Diablo 2 before it could fully sink its venomous, irresistible fangs into my flesh.

From there I moved into Serious Sam territory. At one point I wrote,

Lobo wrote:

Serious Sam has always sort of been dismissed as some sort of "throwback" to a long-dead style of FPS. I think this view is seriously in error. There is so much new stuff, so many original and playful ideas, that to describe Serious Sam in this manner would be awfully shortsighted.

Toward the end of this interval I moved on to some Unreal Tournament botmatches. Certis claimed that since I failed to sleep at all, he was able to rest easier at night. I think that seeing me in pain puts him at ease somehow.

Games played: D2, Serious Sam, UT

Hours 25-30: I played some more UT. I normally play on Adept difficulty, but when I'm in the mood for some one-on-one dueling against a bot, I turn the difficulty up to Masterful. Well, this time around the Masterful bot wiped the floor with me, outscoring me 20-7 and 20-11. My lack of performance may have been due to fatigue, but I just couldn't shake the nagging feeling that the skill and fortitude of my teenage years had disappeared forever.

I switched to Contra for the NES. Up up down down left right left right B A start. As I fought the final boss -- a colossal alien heart, for those of you without gamer cred -- I noticed that its increasingly rapid palpitations mirrored my own sleep-deprived heart rate.

Some interesting quotes:

Lobo wrote:

Remember the boss in the color-shifting blue jeans who skips like a woman? Yeah. I'd like to get drunk with whoever designed that.

Lobo wrote:

Earlier Sanjuro scared me into thinking my fingers were falling off. Don't ask how; just be aware that he has such power!

Scary stuff!

Games played: UT, Contra

Hours 31-36: As my mental faculties began to deteriorate Certis decided to play with my mind by showing me this:


I'm not sure what Certis stands to gain from my death, but clearly that's what he was hoping to achieve.

Games played: None

Hours 36-42:

I hallucinated wildly to an episode of Nature on PBS narrated by James Earl Jones. It was like I was in the TV. Whoa.

Sanjuro asked me to evaluate the plot of the original Super Mario Bros. while in my deranged state. I came back with this:

Lobo wrote:

Mario is a hero in the classic archetypal style. Bowser is clearly Mario's estranged father, against whom Mario must struggle for his own atonement, in order that he may eventually transcend his father's greatness and embark upon the apotheosis to godhood. Since we're dealing with classic archetypes, wherein only the males are worth a damn, the Princess clearly should have known better than to go out into the world with a vagina unprotected by a husband. Her folly distracts Mario from his true goal of sitting around all day, eating magic mushrooms, and having sex with Toad.

Games played: Super Mario Bros. 2

Hours 43-48: This interval began on a high point, as I played through the shareware episode of the classic Apogee first-person shooter Rise of the Triad. The gore and the absurdity of it all served to revive me for a couple of hours, but I could feel my failure fast encroaching. Pyro and I reminisced about the glory days of PC gaming for a while, and then I moved on to the NES title Guerilla War, which served to preoccupy me for another hour. But it was not to be enough.

In spite of some inspired, last-minute efforts at intervention by Reaper, I decided to throw in the towel. I made it to the 48-hour mark, at which time I promptly went to sleep. My revenge must needs wait till some more distant day. I offered the following parting words:

Lobo wrote:

I think that when I sleep, you all (and the rest of the external world) disappear. So get ready for that, because here it comes.

As my head hit the pillow and my eyelids closed fast upon bloodshot orbs, I couldn't help but feel, again, that the skill and fortitude of my teenage years had disappeared forever. I do not recall my subsequent dreams, but I suspect that they were primarily concerned with ruined monuments, fallen empires, and glorious standards long faded. My hopes lay shattered; my efforts soundly thwarted.

Until next time.



I shall commit myself to a 48-hour insomniathon this weekend in honor of you. You are a testament to your comrades and your gender.

I steeped some tea for my first of many infusions of caffeine.

shouldn't caffeine be illegal in these kind of record attempts? I mean, it's like THG for sprinters!

you're a twisted and corrupted individual Lobo... keep it up!

Gettin' old is a pain, ain't it?

I know what you mean about the TV. I know that if I was tired enough it would almost feel like it was 3D, like the picture was actually going into and coming out of the screen. Weird.

Wow that's pretty wild. Just out of curiosity, how long did you sleep once you finally did?

Botswana wrote:

Gettin' old is a pain, ain't it?

I know what you mean about the TV. I know that if I was tired enough it would almost feel like it was 3D, like the picture was actually going into and coming out of the screen. Weird.

It does do this, in fact. During the original event, Lobo and I were watching a late night episode of Popeye - in which Popeye lept from the tv screen and said something to the affect of "brehbrebrebrebleh bre!"

As a frequent insomniac, it was fun to witness Lobo's voluntary descent down that dark path. You know, fun in a "Hey, somebody else is in pain!" kind of way. Which is the best kind of fun after all.

I don't know if I could ever try to stay up 60+ hours. Sleep is a mistress I prefer to lay with as often as possible, because she's easy. Like Sunday morning. Whatever that means. My point is, wow. Good on you for even 48 hours.

That's not healthy dude.

But it's entertaining for all of us, so thanks!

I am trying to think of the longest I have been awake and I can't remember. It definetly has gaming as the source though. I think it's probably the D2:LoD release party that a few friends and I had where we started new characters and played through the whole game in 16 hours. I was likely up for 30 hours total that time, that's probably my longest.

I can't believe you did 67 hours one time, that is nuts. I really feel sick after 24 hours or so.

I have gone 30 hours with nothing to eat or drink except water or kool-aid before. That was actually easier than staying awake for 30 hours.

EDIT: I wonder how high I could get in WoW if I played contantly until I fell asleep...

48 hours is nothing.. when you get to 3 days straight is when you truly lose your sanity. I did that a few times and it feels like your brain is floating 3 feet above your head watching your every move.

But I congratulate you Lobo on your efforts, and I fear the entire GWJ crew for reveling in his pain.

Fletcher1138 wrote:

As a frequent insomniac, it was fun to witness Lobo's voluntary descent down that dark path. You know, fun in a "Hey, somebody else is in pain!" kind of way. Which is the best kind of fun after all.

Sure. It's like Survivor. Their pain is my entertainment.

Wow. If I weren't in the middle of some brain wrecking exams right now I'd join you on your "voyage-to-a-stroke".

Wish I had the time. Actually, no... no I don't. Zzzz X_x

And here I am feeling a little brittle after going to the midnight Batman movie. I am truly ancient and decrepit.

You guys need to work at a poorly managed Game Development Studio. 48 hours with no sleep is about the average come crunch time. A group of 4 of us stayed up for 4 days and managed to whip out an entire game prototype that got the company a job. Granted, we got really silly around day three, but we got it done.

This is why I will never go back unless it's as the owner.

48 hours is nothing to be ashamed of .... then again, maybe it is ....

Notorious cases of record-setters include disc jockey Peter Tripp who in 1959 stayed up for more than eight days as a promotional stunt. After a few days, he began to hallucinate, seeing kittens, mice, and cobwebs. He also became paranoid, insisting that an electrician had dropped a hot electrode into his shoe.

Six years later, high school student Randy Gardner attempted to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time awake -- 260 hours. And after 11 days without sleep he suffered no hallucinations or paranoia and no psychotic symptoms.

I've never done a marathon of conciousness, but as a young teen I did fast for five days to better empathize with the less fortunate of the world.
I did it again in my early 30's to see if I still had the will.

78 Hours, but I had to because of work, and I swear it almost killed me. Fortunately years of abusing my system and staying up for frequent all night gaming bashes help facilitate it. It took a solid week before I could function as normal person again. Honestly though, I give more credit to the folks that fast, I consider that a LOT harder.

Loganrapp wrote:

You are a testament to your comrades and your gender.

That is among the very finest compliments I have ever been paid. Thanks!

hubbinsd wrote:

Wow that's pretty wild. Just out of curiosity, how long did you sleep once you finally did?

Well, let me feed you some quotes on this matter, one from myself, the second from Fletcher:

Lobo wrote:

Slept for less than eight hours, as the Fates would have it. Someone rang my goddamned doorbell twice, and by the time I had roused myself to answer it they were gone. f*ckers!

...rage... building...

Fletcher1138 wrote:

Dude. That sucks. Funny as hell on my end, I gotta say, but sucks. Really sucks. For you. For me: awesome. You: sucks.

I do believe you can find the Fletcher quote masquerading as Sanjuro's latest sig. You see what I have to deal with around here?

Fasting? That's easy compared to this "no sleep" thing. I've gone months surviving on diets of tuna, all-bran, and oatmeal, with the occasional burguer thrown in. Come to think of it, that's more like dieting. Hey, look, I forgot the point. Oh yeah, Jesus was cool.

/16 hours without sleep. I'm a sleep-wimp. :/

In early January of this year I stayed up 10+ days with maybe 4-5 hours of sleep total in that time. I did 3-4 days in a row with no sleep for sure. I wasn't trying to set a record, I just got really screwed up internal clock-wise and couldn't sleep. It was awful, I was seriously losing my grip.

In my teens I stayed up 72 hours a couple times, once while trying to have the world's longest monopoly game. Then we looked at what the record for that was, and promptly fell asleep.

The longest I can remember staying up was this past University semester. It was only about 26hours but I did it with nothing but a bottle of Barqs Root Beer (which here in Canada has very little caffeine in it). I promptly went to my classes and then fell asleep as soon as I got back to my dorm. I have a hard enough time staying awake from 6:20am to 11:00pm.

Pyro and I reminisced about the glory days of PC gaming for a while, and then I moved on to the NES title Guerilla War, which served to preoccupy me for another hour. But it was not to be enough.

I thought I was the only one who had ever played Guerilla War. Back in 1991, during the Gulf War, my brother and I played Guerilla War from start to finish without stopping. I think we pretended we were Marines storming through Baghdad to take out Saddam. Oh, the innocence of youth. I think I can still remember the music...

gtnissanfan wrote:

I think I can still remember the music...

Wouldn't surprise me. Guerilla War has very good and very distinctive music.

The most I ever did was 56 hours at college once, as a price I paid for ignoring paper deadlines for 2 successive months. After evaluating my experimental results and finishing 2 3000 word papers in 48 hours, then travelling to college to hand them in, I proceeded to jump on a plane to Amsterdam to visit some friends. By the time I had landed and got to their place, colours had started to look funny even without any chemical support. I then had one shot of whisky and pretty much keeled over. I woke up 14 hours later.

I'm not sure I'd want to do it again. Impressive feat though, Lobo.

Heh, that was funny. In my younger years, I remember once staying awake so long that I started having vivid halicinations while walking down the street. As in I saw trees that didn't exist, people that weren't supposed to be there, etc. Kindda got spooky.

But the scariest thing I've ever heard of was one of my former managers. He had a medical condition, where if his trachea were to relax, it would close up. In other words, the moment he would start falling asleep and his body would relax, he would start choking to death. Which made him promptly wake up. The man has not slept in something like 20 years. He was a bit wierd, but also a genius on the other hand. Except his thoughts worked somehow radically different than what I imagine most people's thoughts to work like.

Isn't that called sleep apnea? Sounds like his condition is pretty advanced.

Yeah. I think that's what it may have been called. During the time I knew him he went to see a sleep doctor and got himself an air mask fitted, with forced air blowing into his lungs. That way it actually took effort to exhale, instead of inhale. But after some practice, he could actually get some sleep at night. When he didn't remind himself of Darth Vader.

Yup, it's called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I just googled it. Looks like it is one of three different kinds, with OSA being the most common.

Scary stuff.

I took an involuntary Vow of Insomnia when my kids were born. This is familiar territory to me. If you'd hung in there just a bit longer, the feeling sick would have faded and you'd have about another day before you started seeing and hearing things. You still have to be careful what you eat, but you can get a whole lot done during that day. Not so much afterwards. I also don't recommend this if you don't have to do it - what it does to your body in general and your immune system in particular should be forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.

Awh...ya buncha babies! See, if you had loaded up CivIII, you'd still be awake; chanting the familiar mantra: "One more turn, one more turn".

Why in my day, gamers shot up with the pineal glands of their competitors, grabbed the nearest Samoan and headed back into the digital glory fields shouting "Aaaaughbbbbthphttttt!" You kids today with your tea and your hallucinogenic PBS.