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Background: I have Asperger's Syndrome. After staying awake for an entire night without sleeping medication, some individuals report feeling tired while others report feeling euphoric and at some point begin to hallucinate with funny noises endlessly repeating. Once, I was awake for 70 hours with strong visual and acoustic hallucinations. I don't do this any more as the effects are gone, and I also feel very tired after a rather short time so I'm over it.

Questions:

  • What neural or psychological mechanisms could make an individual want to experience the effects of sleep deprivation?
  • Is sleep deprivation addictive?
  • Does sleep deprivation count as a drug?
  • Is enjoying sleep deprivation related to having Asperger's Syndrome?
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I also have Aspergers, I can go to sleep easily, I don't enjoy sleep deprivation, but if there is a vacation or weekend, I'll be staying up late. –  CoonKitteh Jul 24 '13 at 18:06
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Assuming there's not a neurological dysfunction underlying sleep deprivation (which is even more possible with Aspergers as sleep dysfunction is a typical comorbidity) it can simply be a learned behavior. The more you do something (whether you particularly "enjoy" it or not) the more likely you are to build it up as a habit. Procedural memory is always at work.

So in this regard, it can be addictive behavior in the same way a "bad habit" can.

I wouldn't call it a drug. Pharmaceutical drugs are defined as the intentional delivery of a substance from externally to inside the body: most commonly acting as an allosteric modulator on neural receptors.

About 73% of children with Asperger's experience problems with sleep according to the Asperger's Association of New England.

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