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September 19, 1966

Sleeplessness And Hallucinations

JAMA. 1966;197(12):1046. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110120152044

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To the Editor:—  In recent years studies of sleep deprivation have described numerous transient hallucinatory experiences and brief psychotic episodes following many hours of sleeplessness (Arch Gen Psychiat15:29, 1966, etc).A recent case of an adolescent whose sleep deprivation was related to a prolonged "celebration" and resulted in a frightening hallucinatory experience which brought him to the mental hospital raises the question of the frequency of this phenomenon in clinical practice.A 19-year-old laborer stated that he had only 2, 2 1/2, 3, and 4 hours of sleep on the four nights prior to hospitalization, with no daytime sleep. When not working during the four days, he spent his time driving around the countryside with friends. During this period he was not drinking excessively. About 9:30 PM on the night of admission he took his girl friend to the cemetery to visit her father's grave. As he was walking