Plummer Cobb is a writer and communications consultant based in Arlington, Texas.

The Sleep Hackers

I’m leaving you this message because I know we left things without closure, and now that I'm gone, I feel like it wouldn't be right not to let you know where I am and how I got here. This is important. 

What I need to tell you is this: I figured out how to hack sleep.

The scientists say there are all these side effects from sleep deprivation. The initial decrease in reaction time and productivity, of course, but also heart disease, compromised immune system, depression, weight gain, brain function impairment. And that’s just to name a few.

In fact, sleep deprivation has a longer and more severe list of health consequences than any single condition.

Anybody who truly understands sleep will say that sleep should be one of our primary pillars of health, right beside diet and exercise, if not above them.

They’re right. To a point.

Once you push past the threshold of human tolerance (which is possible for some, I assure you), something else happens.

And it is amazing.

Genetically, we are all predisposed to needing a certain amount of sleep. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Many of those believe they function fine on fewer hours, but the reality is, they are perpetually sleep deprived and don’t know it.


Only a handful of people have the genes necessary to get their full sleep quota after four or five hours. I’m one of those people.

I took my natural tendency further: I weaned myself off of sleep. I cut out a few minutes at a time, and eventually, I was only sleeping for a few minutes a night.

Then I made the jump to No Sleep.

At first, nothing happened. I was a little tired but still functional. Then slowly, the night began to change. The first night, I thought maybe I was hallucinating. I saw people walking along my street, talking. I didn’t recognize them. The moonlight itself was different, too — brighter, more silvery, and it saturated everything, making the night bright as day. Sounds were clearer, too. And whenever I touched something, I felt textures that hadn’t been there before.

It only lasted a few seconds at first, but night after night, the sensory changes lasted longer. Eventually, the change took place the moment the sun went down and lasted all night. Then the night took over, and there was no more daytime. Not for me. The sun stopped coming up, and the night was all there was.

That was when I met the others.

They were like me. They had stopped sleeping. There was a whole community of them, and they lived in a whole different world. The Dream Time.

“We no longer exist in the Awake World. We walk in the Dream Time. They don’t see us, and we don’t see them. They think we simply disappeared."

They told me it is extremely difficult to return to the Awake World from the Dream Time. The two are like dimensions alongside and within each other. Yin and Yang.

What we do here has little direct effect on the Awake World, but some things make it through. Bits of our conversations. Objects we move. Visions of us walking around.

“This is where ghost stories come from,” they told me.

Some of my new friends have been able to get things from one world to the next. Not with great consistency, mind you, but with enough success that it’s worth a try.

That’s what I’m doing with this letter. I hope it reaches you. Please know that I will always remember you and love you. We’re sisters, after all, and I know things have been strained for some time, what with Mom’s dementia before she died, and Dad…well, you know. I hope my disappearance doesn’t add to your stress. If it does, and if this reaches you, just know that I’m okay. I have found my people. I have found my place. I probably won’t ever return, and I hope you’re okay with that. I certainly am.

The Hat That Made a Woman Disappear

Exit to Nowhere