I used to work a job with a crazy schedule. Once, we worked five days a week from noon until 6 a.m. for FIVE WEEKS. That’s 18 hours a day for those of you keeping track…
As you can imagine, it was totally exhausting and sometimes by the time I was heading home when the sun was coming up, I feel like I started seeing things and my reaction time was slowed WAY down.
I can’t really say I was hallucinating, but it was probably the closest I’ve ever come to it.
In this AskReddit article, people talk about what happened when they were so sleep-deprived that they hallucinated.
1. Time to make the donuts.
“In college, I tried to hold down a donut delivery job while taking a full credit load.
I got up at 4:30 AM to deliver, and often was up until midnight or even later. After a particularly busy week with almost no sleep, I hallucinated a man crossing the street right in front of me while delivering and I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting him.
When I realized that there was no one in the crosswalk — and no one anywhere in sight — I finished my deliveries and immediately quit my job.”
2. Don’t do meth.
“I had a meth problem several years ago. I think my longest stretch was 4 days.
Past a certain point you just don’t know which way is up. Sure meth can make you weird, but in my experience I think the sleep deprivation is actually what makes you lose your marbles after long enough. When I made sure I slept and ate regularly, it was almost like an energy drink. But when I binged and had my junkie weeks, oof.
Once I thought I was hearing music playing loudly somewhere outside. I was convinced it was a soundtrack to a big music festival I had attended a few weeks before that someone had also attended, and was now playing loudly in the middle of the night. (The whole musics festival? Multiple bands had a soundtrack? Bruh.) I couldn’t hear it when I listened for it, but while distracted I could plainly hear it. Dead of the night and no music was playing.
Another time I was sketching in my room at like 3am. I had a friend over who was just chilling with me, asking questions every so often that would lead to discussions. Slowly they responded less and less until I looked at them and they were just looking at me. Asked what was wrong, looked down, looked up waiting for the answer, and they were gone. Never there. They hadn’t talked to me in months after they found out I was using.
So many shadow people. And those took a long time to go away after sobering up.
Whispers, hearing someone talking to me, my name being called, hearing someone talking about me. Even though I was by myself lol.
Sometimes I’d be driving and cars would suddenly be coming straight at me, lights blinding and everything, only to sort of “come to” and realize I’m driving on a back road and I’m the only car for miles.
By no means am I saying any weird mental shit had nothing to do with the meth. But in my experience not sleeping for days had a much more horrifying effect.”
3. Pills are bad, too.
“One time I stayed up for 2 days straight off some pills that mixed with meth. By the second night I wanted to go to sleep so I took unisoms to see if it would help. I started hallucinating an hour after taking it and was seeing people and things with my eyes that weren’t there in reality.
It was a strangest feeling in the world knowing what I was seeing wasn’t real but not being able unsee. For example, I was looking out my window at my car. I visually saw three men next to my car.
I would turn my head away, say it wasn’t real and look back only to see the men differently positioned. I visualized them popping my hood, removing my headlamps, and opening my doors. But none of it was real.
4. In the desert.
“Very calm as far as hallucinations go.
I had driven for 20+ hours and was in the Arizona/California desert. It was the middle of the night, it had been dark for hours and only other car lights and stars where visible. Started seeing things out of the corner of my eyes, just kind of objects off a distance on the side of the road. Then it was things in the road ahead. T
hat got my attention. After a bit I started seeing fantastic meteor/light showers in the sky. Wasn’t scary or anything, didn’t stop driving.
To be young, dumb, and invincible again.”
5. Tunnel vision.
“I drove across country from NY to California when I was 18. I was on a 2 lane highway in Kansas and got bad tunnel vision. But the thing about tunnel vision is you don’t know it’s happening when it’s happening. The road was straight, flat, and there were no cars going by me, in front of me, or behind me.
I ended up getting pulled over. When I saw the flashing lights behind me I pulled over immediately but wasn’t sure how fast I was going or even if I was being pulled over for speeding. The first thing the officer asked me was why it took me so long to pull over.
This was confusing since I pulled over right away. He told me he had been following me for almost 5 minutes with his lights and sirens on and that I had been going well over 100 mph.
He checked out my info, didn’t give me a ticket. Told me to stay more alert, take frequent breaks, and to slow down.”
6. Is this real?
“While deployed overseas with lack of sleep for like 70+ hours, I would black out and re-experience/dream completely different scenarios that happened days prior. It was crazy. Like Deja Vu, but for like an hour.
I’d snap out of it and be completely confused for like 30 seconds, wondering which experience was real.”
7. No sleep at all.
“When I was in university, immediately after my father died (OD’d on Christmas Eve after I threw him out), I pretty much quit sleeping. Maybe 3-4 hours a night. Went through lots of counselling, lots of medication (7 different sedatives and SSRI’s) but basically just couldn’t sleep.
We had a home birth for my niece so even when the grief wasn’t overwhelming, the newborn baby kept me up.
Anyways, I knew it got bad when I started microsleeping. I’d be in class listening to a lecture, blink and police officers would be standing beside me explaining what had transpired, then blink and I’d be back listening to class. Maybe mentally be out of it for 5-10 seconds but felt entirely lucid other than time dilation.
The psychiatrist at the time said I was dropping into REM because I was so sleep deprived. Happens with new moms when babies are cluster feeding. I wasn’t driving or anything so not dangerous that way but honestly lived in a fog for years.
Just like snap of the finger – perfectly lucid horrible moment of my life – snap of the finger back.
During this period I had a thing where I quit talking to people at school to see how long they would go without chatting to me. Literally had week stretches where not a word was said. Then came finals, started vomitting with anxiety when I tried to enter the exam rooms which was an autofail for my classes.
So academic probation, the opportunity to protest if I would speak in front of the university Senate, which I clearly couldn’t do, and eventual complete failure. There were times where I was hitting the student food bank after hours because I literally couldn’t walk into a grocery store because my anxiety was so severe.
So definitely can happen but for me was pretty extreme situation.”
8. Back to reality.
“It was the weirdest thing.
I was taking notes on an extremely boring video in theology but then words started appearing on their own without me writing anything. They were dancing around for a bit and I found it completely normal for a bit but then I realized that words aren’t suppose to dance.
Then I snapped back to reality with nothing on my paper.”
9. Sounds rough.
“For context, this happened during some military training. Laying down in the woods desperately trying to stay awake, usually the plants turn into people. Like you’ll see a figure walking around out in front of you, and then “come to” and realize it was just a sapling or a bush or something.
Happened surprisingly more during the day than the night.”
10. Is that a vending machine?
“Favorite Ranger School story: two dudes pulling security in a patrol base. B
een going for days on end with no more than two hours of sleep a night. One of them stands up out of nowhere, starts walking into the woods. The one still on the ground asks the dude walking off where he’s going. The guy points out into the woods and says, “Vending machine. Gonna get some Doritos.”
His buddy on the ground thinks for a minute and replies, “Get me a Snickers, man, I’ll cover you!”
Both of them were so loopy that the one guy was seeing a vending machine out in the middle of the woods, and the other guy didn’t even question the logic of the scenario, he immediately jumped to what he wanted out of the vending machine.”
“Used to overwork myself to the point of hallucinations fairly regularly.
Most were auditory; I’d hear someone talking nearby (usually saying my name or just a couple of muffled syllables), bits of songs; like having an ear worm except louder, lol. A distant ringing telephone was also common. Less commonly I’d hear something loudly falling somewhere.
Visually, I’d mostly see flashes of color or blackness in the periphery of my vision. Like when someone walks by and you just barely see them out of the corner of your eye. Tall figures in the room (such as a coat on a rack) would also briefly appear to be a person standing there.
Those were probably the most startling to me.”
12. My bad…
“When I had a new baby, I was in target with the baby and got a call from an officer.
Turns out I had left every single door of my car open. He thought it was a break in.
It was not… just me sleep deprived!!”
13. Scary stuff.
“It’s honestly scary, like one time I was on the verge of falling asleep and I thought I felt somebody run their finger across my cheek.
When i snapped upright into a sitting position, nobody was there. I live alone btw. I’m sure I hallucinated it but that shit is scary regardless.”
14. Didn’t really happen…
“I used to have episodes of insomnia as a teenager. Once, while walking home from school, I saw a car driving in my direction. It suddenly veered onto the sidewalk, continued toward me, and swerved back onto the road moments before hitting me.
I thought it was real, but I was so out of it from exhaustion that I didn’t even flinch. I realized a few days later that the curb of the sidewalk was too high for a car to have possibly driven over.”
15. Hearing things…
“They were auditory, but I heard sirens in the distance and just kind of weird sounds, not really voices or anything distinguishable.”
Ugh…for me personally, being extremely overtired makes me the most miserable person on the planet.
How about you?
Have you ever been so tired that you actually hallucinated?
If so, tell us about it in the comments!