THE FIRST sleep deprivation study on man was carried out in 1896 by Patrick and Gilbert,1 who kept three young adults awake for 90 hours. Visual hallucinations occurred in one subject. In the ensuing years, a number of studies have been done and a frequent finding has been the development of some kind of psychotic symptomatology. Perceptual illusions, transient hallucinatory episodes, and depersonalization are among the most commonly observed symptoms.2-5
With longer durations of sleep deprivation, more severe disturbances have been reported. Among 275 servicemen who had undergone 112 hours of sleep deprivation, Tyler6 saw a few instances of behavior resembling symptoms of acute schizophrenia. Luby et al7 reported a subject who developed a florid psychotic picture during the course of 220 hours of wakefulness which was completely reversed following 14 hours of sleep.
The effects of sleep deprivation ordinarily disappear when
GULEVICH G, DEMENT W, JOHNSON L. Psychiatric and EEG Observations on a Case of Prolonged (264 Hours) Wakefulness. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(1):29-35. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730130031005