From a teen in the U.S.: Every few months I start feeling a sort of mix between deja vu and dissociation? Starting last year, I have infrequently had this feeling of being in autopilot and being an observer looking through my own eyes as something or someone else keeps going, whether it be driving or working or whatever I may be doing. My personality doesn’t change, it just doesn’t feel like me doing it. I start feeling a bit sick to my stomach, and vague, obscure memories of similar experiences start rushing back, almost as though I’m remembering bits and pieces of dreams I’ve had but previously didn’t remember, similar to the feeling of deja vu. It’s a very intense experience and I usually get rid of it by forcing myself to sleep through it, but I’d like to know if there’s more behind it, and whether I can prevent it or just let it run its course when it happens.
It’s rare that a person can force themselves to sleep. Since you can, it suggests to me that you may be experiencing the consequences of a sleep disorder.
A complete sleep cycle, from the beginning of Stage 1 to the end of REM usually takes about an hour and a half. That’s an important number. If an individual wakes up every hour or several times during the night, that person may be sleeping, but he or she isn’t getting good restorative sleep. The average person needs at least 4 to 6 complete cycles (6 to 9 hours) to be rested. If you aren’t getting enough sleep or if you have a sleep disorder, it may well be the cause of your deja vu-like experiences.
If you are staying up so late you can’t get those 6 – 9 hours of shut eye, see what happens if you make sure you do for a few weeks. If the issue clears up, you’ll know it was caused by sleep deprivation.
You will need to undergo a sleep study to determine if you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder (like Obstructive Sleep Apnea). If you think you are sleeping enough every night but still have symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting a study done. Most insurance policies will pay for a sleep study if recommended by a physician.
I wish you well.