The days when I could routinely pull all-nighters are far behind me. When it gets late, a switch goes off that reminds me I need to go to bed at a reasonable time. Barring setbacks, I get the seven hours a night you’d expect of a boring, responsible adult.
There’s only one thing that can consistently distract me from my self imposed bedtime: video games. When I’m focused on a good game, I lose all sense of time, and hours slip away in an instant. I’ve told myself “just a few more minutes” until I’ve looked at the clock and realized I had to be up in 3 hours.
These all-night gaming sessions sometimes leave me feeling predictably awful, but on other occasions, I’ve woken up feeling great. I’m full of energy, psyched about last night’s gaming accomplishments, and thrilled that I’ve gotten by on hardly any sleep. I decide I’ll spend another night eschewing sleep, but when darkness falls, I’m exhausted and I crawl into my bed.
Deep in the Amazonian Jungle, there’s a tribe that believes on subsiding on as little sleep as possible. They believe that the less they sleep, the stronger they become. They also know that sleeping leaves them vulnerable to the many dangers of the Amazon. When someone heads off to bed, they don’t wish each other goodnight. “Don’t sleep,” they say. “There are snakes.”
Of course, you don’t have to go to the Amazon to find cultures that avoid sleep. The Walpiri people of Australia believe it’s rude not to wake a sleeper when something interesting is happening, even if that interesting thing is only a conversation. In the days before electric light, large chunks of sleep were rare, and people instead had multiple short naps throughout the day. This is something that’s still practiced all around the world.
I don’t like sleeping. I never have, and I think it has something to do with being a gamer. When you play games, it’s hard to feel like sleeping is your most appealing option. There are always new games to play and new worlds to get lost in. A cozy bed can’t compete with that.
I’ll never be able to give up sleep entirely, but I take comfort in the idea that I might not need as much as I think I do. Less sleep means more time, and that’s something that I’ll never have enough of. Tonight, when I’m getting ready for bed, I’ll remind myself that there are things worth staying awake for.
Don’t sleep. There are video games.