How Long Can You Go Without Sleep?

Sleep is one of the basic human requirements. It plays a significant role in maintaining a person’s well-being and good health throughout his life. Getting adequate quality sleep at night can help in protecting one’s physical health, mental health, safety, and quality of life. Let us see how long can you go without sleep

Sleep deprivation can cause various physical, emotional and mental problems. Some of these are heart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, slow healing process, fatigue, clumsiness, daytime sleepiness, weight gain or weight loss, reduced decision-making ability, stress, headaches, short temper, hand tremor, hallucinations, memory lapse, memory loss, confusion, etc.

It is a fact that one can survive longer without food than without sleep. So, how long can you go without sleep? This article provides you with comprehensive information on this matter.

How Long Can You Stay Awake?

Research On Prolonged Sleep Deprivation:

Lack of Sleep

Here are some studies where human beings and rats were tested for their tolerance to stay awake for prolonged times.

However, none of these studies effectively provide information as to how long can a human go without sleep? This is because no one in these studies died definitively from lack of sleep alone. There were other factors too involved. It is ethically tricky to inspect those boundaries under lab conditions.

In the year 1965, Randy Gardener, a 17-year-old voluntarily went without sleep for a high-school science fair project. He stayed awake for about 11 days (264 hours). He was a mere vegetable with open eyes before he fell asleep on the 11th day. But this study does not provide info on at what point he would have died if he had continued to stay awake.

Another renowned experiment on testing the ability to stay awake was that made on rats at the University of Chicago in the 1980s. Researchers monitored them keenly and jolted these rodents to keep them awake every time they started to fall asleep.

It was found that these animals died within a period of two weeks. But even this experiment has its shortcomings. For, one does not know whether the rats died of utter sleep deprivation alone. Their deaths may also have links to increased blood pressure and stress hormone (Cortisol) levels as these animals were woken up from their sleep constantly.

Apart from these programmed studies, some reports have also been made of natural sleep deprivation situations. One of these is that of the Air Force Pilots who go without sleep for three or four days.

It has been seen that they go delirious that they crash their planes by falling asleep. Even those who remain awake for single nights have reported having impaired driving abilities just as if they were drunk.

Human Medical Disorders That Cause Sleep Deprivation

There are some rare medical sleep deprivation disorders in human beings. These again arises different, surprising answers to the question how long can you go without sleep? These disorders are discussed below:

Morvan’s Syndrome Or Morvan’s Fibrillary Chorea

Morvan’s syndrome or Morvan’s fibrillary chorea is a rare kind of autoimmune disease where weakness, severe sleep loss (agrypnia), cramping, excessive sweating, irregular multiple contractions of the long muscles, pain, weight loss, twitching, periodic hallucinations, delirium, hyperhidrosis, and pruritus are experienced for months or even years together. In the year 1974, in France, neurobiologist Michel Jouvet and co, studied a 27-year-old man with Morvan’s syndrome.

They have recorded that he did not sleep for months together. Neither he feels tired or sleepy, nor did he exhibit memory, anxiety or mood disorders. However, between 9 to 11 pm, almost every night, he experienced visual, auditory, somesthetic (touch sense), and olfactory hallucinations over a period of 20 to 60 minutes. He also experienced pain and vasoconstriction in his toes and fingers during this time. Recent studies say that the Morvan’s syndrome is linked to serum antibodies that are directed against certain potassium channels in the membranes of cells and nerves.

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