Sleep-deprived person

How Long Can You Go Without Sleep? Understanding Sleep Duration

We need sleep to boost our memory banks, keep our moods on an even keel, clear out toxins and balance our body’s hormones. Without it, we end up a agitated, delirious mess.

Take it case of an espresso-drinking 18-year-old who couldn’t sleep on a trip to Italy and ended up having to be hospitalized:

“At one point I tried to speak exclusively in rhymes. Another day I gave up speech altogether. I remember telling people the circles were divine and making a policy of hitting myself on the head when I made mistakes, eventually breaking my own glasses with one punch.’

Typical symptoms of sleep deprivation are less noticeable and include fatigue, slowed reaction time, memory problems, and difficulty focusing. A person becomes legally drunk after only 24 hours awake, According to the CDC.

Read more: How to recover from a sleepless night

How long can you go without sleep? sleep deprivation

Most staying awake records stand on shaky ground by scientific standards, although Guinness recognized a few before announcing in 1997 that it would no longer sanction insomnia for safety reasons and because of a rare, fatal disorder (Fatal Familial Insomnia) that causes the condition.

Guinness World Records Standards

As such, Guinness rejected a 2010 claim by a 28-year-old celebrity photographer from Los Angeles that he stayed awake for 968 hoursor more than 40 days, with the help of a “team of watchers” who made sure he didn’t fall asleep.

Guinness last extended the record in 1986 with stuntman Robert McDonald swinging in a rocking chair in a restaurant for 18 days and 21 hours, a quieter task than his previous stunts, but not an easy one. “I’m ready to collapse” he told a reporter“because I found it difficult to keep down any food.”

A 1964 record withstood immediate scientific scrutiny in the form of a convertible-driving sleep researcher who joined 17-year-old Randy Gardner in staying awake for 11 days. But experts later claimed that he was not fully awake as he experienced frequent “micro-sleeps” lasting a few seconds.

Sleep deprivation study

Scientific studies examining the effects of sleep deprivation typically keep people awake for only 24 to 72 hours, for ethical reasons. The researchers found gradual declines in reaction time, working memory, attention, math ability and decision-making.

A A 2004 study which kept 21 volunteers awake for 36 hours on three different occasions, found that some people suffer from the above consequences, while others seem to have a special resistance to sleep deprivation and loss of mental functioning.

Read more: What happens when we go without sleep?

Can you die from lack of sleep?sleep deprivation

Indirectly, yes.

In 2012, a 26-year-old Chinese man died after staying up 11 nights in a row to watch European Football Championship matches on TV while smoking and drinking beer. He it is reported returned home after watching the last game with friends, took a shower, fell asleep around 5am and never woke up.

A local emergency room doctor later said the man “is in good health. But staying up all night and not getting enough sleep weakened his immune system and he drank and smoked while watching [games]triggering his condition.”

Familial insomnia/insomnia

Sleep deprivation also plays a role in a rare genetic disorder, fatal familial insomnia (FFI), which slowly robs its victims of the ability to sleep over about 18 months (or more) and eventually kills them. A prion disease like mad cow, FFI causes agonizing panic attacks and paranoia, other psychiatric symptoms including depression.

Nervous symptoms are relentless and “marked by increased heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, sweating, breathing and stress hormones,” according to Basis for sleep.

FFI sufferers share very general with delirium tremens, also known as severe alcohol withdrawal, with its hallucinations, extreme anxiety and high blood pressure. But instead of lasting a few days, FFI can last for years when dementia sets in, along with speech and movement difficulties. At some point, the person may completely lose the ability to sleep and will inevitably fall into a coma and die.

The stimulating neurotransmitter norepinephrine courses through the bodies of both DT and FFI sufferers, while the nighttime peak of melatonin, the sleep inducer, somehow never occurs.

Read more: Why You Should Avoid Late Night Coffee

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