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How Long Can You Go Without Sleep And Is It Harmful?

Sleep is an essential requirement for the human body. It is as important as breathing. It is said that a person can survive three times longer without eating food than someone who is sleep deprived. According to the experiment, it was concluded that rats died or were nearly dead when they were deprived of sleep for 11-32 days. Although many studies have been done on rest, there is still more to learn about its importance.

How Long Can You Go Without Sleep Before You Die?

As mentioned above, sleep deprivation leads to the death of rats, but that does not prove or disprove that a human can survive without sleep; this question remains unanswered. However, as indicated by some cases, many individuals have died as a result of not getting any rest.

How long an individual can survive without sleep is still unknown. The science of sleep is a young discipline because, in the last few decades, we have been able to identify the functions and importance of sleep due to the advancement of research.

In the 1960s, a student named Randy Gardner spent a long time staying awake than anyone knowingly has, breaking the world record. During the experiment, he had eyesight problems, along with cognitive deficiencies, including memory and speech problems. At the end of the trial, he began to hallucinate. The symptoms of sleep deprivation emerged within 11 days.

It is unwise for an individual to ignore sleep. The negative impact of partial sleep deprivation has been found in many research studies, but it is beneficial to know that these effects become worse in conditions of prolonged sleep deprivation.

For how long can a person stay awake?

Air Force pilots become very delirious after sleep deprivation of 3-5 days , which can result in a plane crash due to falling asleep. A person faces impaired driving abilities after missing just a single night of sleep.

To be precise about the period of time, the longest anyone has stayed awake was 264 hours, which is around 11 days, and that was achieved by the student mentioned above.

At what point can a person die?

A Chinese man who was 26-years-old was reportedly found dead after 11 days while trying a sleepless attempt of watching the games of the European Cup. He drank alcohol and continue smoking for the whole 11 days, making it difficult to ascertain the exact reason for his death. No individual has been found dead due entirely to lack of sleep for ethical reasons.

According to research done on rats, sleep deprivation resulted in symptoms of hypermetabolism, which is a condition during which the resting metabolic rate of the body speeds up an extreme amount, causing it to burn excessive calories while being still. Hypermetabolism has a connection to lack of sleep.

How Long Can You Go Without Sleep Before Hallucinating?

People will start to hallucinate and get crazy if they are deprived of sleep for too long. It’s surprising to know that if you are 70-years-old, 20-25 of the years that you have been alive you have utilized for sleep. So, if you want to stay awake for long, bear in mind the consequences of sleep deprivation.

How Long Can You Go Without Sleep Before HallucinatingHow Long Can You Go Without Sleep Before Hallucinating

Why should you sleep at all?

The reason for the necessity of sleep is a mystery. The exact benefits and functions of sleep are still in need of being identified. However, studies conclude that sleep helps to reset the systems of the body. Adequate and routine rest helps in the promotion of proper immune functions and metabolism, promoting healing and much more. It is the reason that rest makes you feel better when you wake up fresh and relaxed.

If you do not sleep well, your health may be in danger of significant risks, such as heart issues, depression, obesity, and other medical conditions. To avoid these outcomes, such as a lack of energy, heavy eyelids, aching eyes, or a tired feeling, sleep well at night; it is best to sleep for at least 8 hours. If you continue fighting off sleep, your concentration ability, along with the formation of short-term memories, weakens.

If you start ignoring the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, you may end up with a disturbed and deranged state of mind. You may feel moody or paranoid and start seeing things which are not present in reality, which is known as hallucinating.

If you stay awake for days, the stress hormones within the body increase in the blood. These hormones include cortisol and adrenaline. This, in turn, leads to elevated blood pressure. Meanwhile, during this period, heart rhythms are disturbed, and the immune system is weakened. Individuals with sleep deprivation feel anxious and their health gets distorted, which leads to illnesses.

How Long Can You Stay Awake And Still Function?

If you remain awake for 20-25 hours, you may notice an impairment in the performance that is similar to an individual who has a blood-alcohol level of around 0.10 percent.

At 36-72 hours of sleep deprivation, your mind and body start operating in a deranged and disturbed state, which puts your health, and even your life, at risk.

People experience sleep deprivation at some point in their lifetime, be it due to business deals, essential study sessions, or new babies. An occasional lack of rest is not a big deal; the effects are intense if you do not sleep for long periods of time. In extreme conditions, sleep deprivation may lead to death.

We as a society have yet to determine or appreciate the importance of sleep. Sleep, along with exercise and a healthy diet, constitute the three critical components that form the foundation for healthy living. These three elements are interconnected with each other and all need to be prioritized.

At 24 Hours

Sleep deprivation at this level has some effects of cognitive impairment similar to the stage with 0.10% blood-alcohol content. After 24 hours of sleep deprivation, memory and judgment ability is impaired, you will feel deterioration in your decision-making ability, and you will experience a decline in coordination between your eyes and hands.

At this stage, you are very emotional and your focus and ability to pay attention are decreased with an increase in the chances of suffering from fatal accidents.

At 36 Hours

At this stage, your bloodstream has high amounts of inflammatory markers, which may lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. You are incredibly emotional at this phase of sleep deprivation. After 36 hours without sleep, you begin losing motivation and start to feel dehydrated.

At 48 Hours

After 48 hours (two days) without sleep, the body starts compensating and shuts down for microsleeps, which are episodes lasting from a second to a minute, followed by a phase of disorientation. If a person experiences microsleep, he will fall asleep regardless of the type of activity he is engaged in.

At 72 Hours

After three days of sleep deprivation, the individual experiences a loss of motivation, concentration, perception, and higher mental processes. At this stage of sleep deprivation, the mind starts hallucinating; you will feel as though someone is standing near you or that a hypothetical situation is being carried out around you.


All situations of sleep deprivation are not voluntary. Some people have genuine sleep problems due to insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, sleepwalking, night terrors, or other issues that can affect sleep. Consult your doctor or a sleep specialist if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Gasping, snoring, or choking while asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness during daytime
  • A jerking or restless sensation in legs at night while sleeping
  • Being unable to perform daytime activities due to impairment
  • Trying hard to stay awake while being inactive when doing things such as watching TV, being at a traffic light, or reading a book or newspaper
  • Need sugar or caffeinated beverage to remain awake throughout the day
  • Falling asleep or feeling tired while driving
  • Needing sleeping aids on a regular basis