I bet that sounds like harmless stuff that you'd probably create a drinking game around. (Take a shot for every yawn!) Then you hear a runner-up say that sometimes "you felt like your life was going to end."
Did we mention that he also thought he was someone else at one point? No? Well, apparently, in between seeing nonexistent projectiles flying by his head and shadows crawling toward him along the floor, Chris Wandel began arguing with people, telling them that he was the Australian prime minister making a guest appearance on a long-running Australian soap opera. Another runner-up thought he was being hunted by a giant mouse.
But that just brings us to the granddaddy of all sleep deprivation freakouts: Peter Tripp. In 1959, the radio DJ attempted a 200-hour "wakathon" to raise money for the March of Dimes. He set up a booth in Times Square and was beset by press, doctors, and medical researchers, all eager to see "the kind of temporary psychosis that can be induced with sleep starvation."
Tripp did not disappoint. Things started well enough, but only two days in, he thought one of the scientists tending to him was wearing a blazer made of writhing, furry worms. He began seeing cobwebs and mice and kittens everywhere. He accused a technician of slipping an electrode into his shoe, which he thought, of course, was made of spiders. He forgot the alphabet. Then things got really weird.
Tripp opened a desk drawer to get something and immediately began panicking and calling for help. He thought the drawer was full of fire. He became combative and began accusing the doctors of setting the fire deliberately as a way to fuck with him. The DJ also claimed that the clock was, in fact, the face of a friend of his, and he was trying to figure out if he himself was Peter Tripp or that imaginary clock-faced friend.
Throughout the 200 hours, he remained convinced that his doctors were conspiring to send him to jail. Granted, he did go to jail later, but until sleep studies deem that a side effect of insomnia is accepting bribes under the table from record companies, the two events seem to be unrelated.