Background: 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.


  • 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?
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, that euphoric feeling from sleep deprivation is one of the few ways I can relax. There are very few activities that I enjoy in my spare time and I'm learning about myself that I am relaxed the most at 4AM on a weeknight. I am not a cognitive scientist but I absolutely believe my behavior is related to 'seeking pleasure' rather than just a bad habit as mentioned by the other answer. $\endgroup$ – user7641 Feb 11 '15 at 0:03

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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Possibly of interest: 2011 study from Berkeley, published in the Journal of Neuroscience: Pulling an all-nighter can bring on euphoria and risky behavior: https://news.berkeley.edu/2011/03/22/pulling-an-all-nighter/

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"The more you do something (whether you particularly "enjoy" it or not) the more likely you are to build it up as a habit"

This simply is not the case.

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

Bad habits can not be "addictive". That is not what either word means. IN fact, sleep deprivation leads to an alteration in brain function similar to that seen in drug use, and in particular, a heightened response to emotional stimuli, with an exaggeration of assessments of positive events, through heightened responses in the dopamine reward centers of the brain. This occurs through currently unknown mechanisms. Whether this then leads to long-term changes in function of dopamine reward circuitry is currently unknown, however.

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    $\begingroup$ This post does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Dec 26 '17 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ I like the answer, but as @ArnonWeinberg says - we do expect people to provide references or otherwise credible sources to allow people to background read on your answer. Because it's your first I did +1'd it. Welcome. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Dec 27 '17 at 10:14

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