What Happens When We Don’t Sleep For a Few Days?

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Nothing beats a good night’s sleep in a dark, cool and quiet bedroom on a comfortable bed with perfectly fluffed pillows and the best mattress to collapse onto after a long day’s work or play. Sleep is something that not only recharges us, it has immeasurable health benefits too. But what actually happens to us if we don’t sleep? Read on to find out.

The Benefits of Sleep

The research and information available about how important sleep is to your body is indisputable. Not only does it help with keeping you healthy by lowering several risk factors associated with depression, anxiety and diabetes, it can also help you concentrate better during the day, improve your moods and memory and decrease risk factors like cancer. It has a role to play in the management of weight and can even affect your skin by helping limit wrinkles, lines and uneven skin tones, proving that getting your beauty sleep is actually very important.

Staying awake and not getting the recommended amount of sleep as an adult can lead to health complications like obesity, diabetes and even heart disease, so we should all be aiming for about 8 hours of sleep per day as adults. You might as well enjoy the best mattress UK available when you do head off to dreamland, and use sites like The Mattress Guide to help you choose the perfect sleep surface for your specific needs, body type and sleeping position. With the booming bed-in-a-box industry, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to mattress shopping, but The Mattress Guide has researched the most popular mattresses for you. Don’t let your mattress keep you awake for days on end.

How Long Can You Actually Go without Sleep?

How long you can go without a good session of shut eye varies from person to person and your age. As a baby, you need a lot of sleep, almost double what you would as an adult. Most studies recommend that a healthy child needs about 10 hours of sleep and healthy adults need about 8 hours of sleep, but this can decrease as we age. You aren’t here to read about that though, you want to know how long you can go without sleeping.

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Essentially, many researchers put this amount in the region of about 10 days. The world record for going without sleep is 266 hours, or around 11 days. Perhaps the most famous study measuring how long someone can stay awake for is the 1965 study by George Gulevich, William Dement and Laverne Johnson where a high school student from California lasted 264 hours without even as much as a nap. This isn’t something you want to try at home, however, as sleep deprivation has a chance of being fatal. Usually your body will simply force you to sleep by passing out, but symptoms of sleep deprivation include fatigue, concentration issues, irritability and increased appetite.

After 24 Hours with No Sleep

Not sleeping for 24 hours will mean you’re already well into the effects of sleep deprivation. You’ll likely feel incredibly tired and the feelings that just 24 hours without sleep can bring can often feel like you’re intoxicated. You’ll feel drowsy, you’re likely going to be moody, and you’re going to see your concentration and co-ordination become less effective. Your blood sugar level will also spike, and you might experience some muscle tension. All of these symptoms are the result of your body trying to conserve energy. This is a state called “local sleep” by doctors and it refers to your brain activity actually slowing.

After 48 Hours with No Sleep

After 48 hours, all of those effects you were feeling after 24 hours are starting to be amplified. Your ability to reason and concentrate will be massively affected, and you will be incredibly tired. Staying awake after 48 hours will become very difficult. Your brain is actually shutting down and you’re starting to experience something called microsleep every few seconds where you may not be responsive to outside stimulation or conversation.

After 72 Hours with No Sleep

After 72 hours, you’re going to be in a state of extreme fatigue. You’ll likely be incredibly irritable and unpleasant to be around, and you won’t be able to concentrate on anything. You’ll start to feel paranoid and depressed and you’ll probably not be able to communicate effectively or at all with other people. Hallucinations and other visual issues have also been reported by some studies. This is when sleep deprivation starts to become serious. Your heart rate will be increasing and your ability to experience positive emotions and happiness will be reduced drastically.

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body and your moods, energy and the ability to concentrate through the whole day. You also can’t make up for lost sleep by sleeping more, so try and get the right amount of sleep every day instead of doing harm to your body by staying awake and trying to catch up on sleep!


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