The scary things that happen to you when you don’t sleep

Dec 28, 2016 | Living

The importance of sleep in our lives is often unrecognized. But did you know that you are more likely to die from sleep deprivation before food deprivation? It takes about 2 weeks to starve, but just 10 days without sleep can be enough to kill a person! The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated and some of these benefits were explained in a previous article here.

Sleep deprivation, simply speaking, is the condition of not sleeping enough. The causes of sleep deprivation can be varied ranging from voluntarily depriving oneself of sleep to sleeping disorders such as insomnia. Depending on its severity, sleep deprivation can result in headaches, increased blood pressure, memory lapses, hallucinations, irritability, seizures, weakened immune system, diabetes and even death! This article shows what happens when you don’t sleep with each passing day. So, if you are sleep-deprived or short on sleep, hopefully this article will scare you to sleep!

Sleep Deprivation Effects: What happens when you don’t sleep

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 1 day

The beginning: 24 hours of no sleep

A normal person stays awake for about 16-18 hours before going to sleep. When you stretch it to 24 hours, the effect on your bodies is comparable to the cognitive impairment caused by blood-alcohol content of 0.10 % – diminished concentration and hand-eye coordination as well as hampered hearing and memory. Your decision-making ability and judgment also get slightly affected and you tend to become more emotional.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 2 days

The microsleep stage: 48 hours of no sleep

After 48 hours, your body starts to come under a lot of stress. Your oxygen intake decreases, which impacts your physical and athletic potential. Your ability to focus takes a serious hit and you may stumble and forget words while speaking. Your body tries to compensate for the sleep deprivation by shutting down for “microsleeps”, where your body tends to fall asleep for up to 30 seconds and are followed by periods of disorientation. Microsleeps are like blackouts and you’re generally not even aware that they occur. Your body’s immune system starts getting affected and you may fall sick very easily.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 3 days

Emotional agitation: 72 hours of no sleep

After 72 hours of no sleep, your concentration and motivation gets quite severely affected and your psychological and motor responses become very unstable. Hence, activities such as driving can be very fatal. You become irritable and easily agitated even by simple things such as normal conversations. Your heart rate and blood pressure also increase significantly, making you very prone to strokes and heart diseases. Your senses, such as vision and touch, are adversely affected and you may also experience “false memories”- when you ‘remember’ something that actually didn’t happen!

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 4 days

Psychosis and Hallucinations: 96 hours of no sleep

After being continuously awake for 96 hours, your organ functions have diminished drastically and depending on your psychological makeup, you experience extreme irritability and varying levels of mental psychosis and hallucinations. You start losing contact with external reality and may experience some delusional episodes. Your brain may start to switch off intermittently while your body is physically awake.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 5 days

Paranoia: 120 hours of no sleep

It’s not very likely that you’ll make it to 120 hours with no sleep as your body will desperately crave to shut down and sleep by this time. However, if you do, your ability to think would have severely declined and you may start becoming paranoid and frightened. You may also experience limb tremors and considerably slowed speech and impaired vision.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 6 days

Confused reality: 144 hours of no sleep

At this stage, you may no longer be able to distinguish between reality and imagination. You’ll suffer significant memory lapses and may start to exhibit rather unusual behavior.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 7 days

Dawn of insanity: 168 hours of no sleep

One week of no sleep is too much for our bodies to handle, both physically and mentally. It is very rare for anyone to stay awake for such a long time except in rare cases of extreme insomnia. Staying awake continuously for 7 days can result in serious mental illnesses and depression, which may lead to insanity. The effects may be so severe that the effects can persist even if you return to normal sleeping pattern after this point.

Sleep Deprivation: What happens when you don't sleep for 8 days

Probable death: 8+ days of no sleep

The body of an average person is on the verge of complete breakdown at this time. Staying awake until this point may result in death. While effects on humans beyond this point has not been fully explored due to the considerable health risks involved, it is presumed that it’ll result in irreversible damage and death. This presumption is further strengthened by the research that rats that were prevented from sleeping died after two weeks. Among humans, the longest, verifiable record is 11 days of no sleep without any stimulant set by Randy Gardner in 1964. But after reading this article, we sincerely hope that you’ll refrain from trying to chase this record! Happy sleeping!