How long can you go without sleep?

How long can you go without sleep?

Sleeping is not just a pleasure. It is above all a need

Falling asleep and dreaming have been enigmatic for us human beings ever since we know our being. None of our functions stop when we fall asleep, except those of full consciousness. For the rest, the whole body continues to be active, and so makes the mind. In this article, we read about How long can you go without sleep?

Science has shown that the ideal is always to sleep eight hours a night. However, it is equally valid that many people do not respect this pattern. Some rest only four hours or less, and it is enough for them to feel like new, and those who need more than 9 hours to think that they have rested.

The number of hours of sleep changes with age, habits, and characteristics of the person. When we are born, we need numerous hours of sleep. As we get older, we get used to short, intermittent sleep. There are no fixed schemes in this.

What is sleep for?

Many of us would never ask ourselves why we need sleep. It is evident that the body gets tired during the day and needs to rest in the evening. The most natural way to get such rest is sleep.

However, if we think about it, it’s not that obvious. In reality, neither the body nor the brain is “deactivated” when we go to sleep. However, it is true that we reduce our external mobility and that our muscles reach a state of relaxation that they are unlikely to get otherwise. We lie down and move to be more comfortable and look for a better position. At the same time, however, all the organs continue to function.

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The brain maintains a great deal of activity while we sleep

We dream. Our mind builds scenarios and situations that involve thoughts and emotions, sometimes very intense. Some people talk or walk even when they sleep. A part of the brain also stays awake. If there is a loud noise or danger arises, an area of ​​our brain alerts us to wake us up.

Simply put, when we go to bed, we stop moving from place to place and keep a low level of attention.

What happens when we don’t sleep

It has happened to everyone from time to time not to get enough sleep. They have fatigue, feeling of unreality, and sometimes headache, nausea, and dizziness. The mental activity also becomes slower, and concentration is easily lost.

When the waking time gets too long, other symptoms also appear. These include: blurred vision, muscle pain, weakened immune system, shaking of the hands and legs, increased cholesterol levels, anxiety, depression, migraines, increased blood pressure, short temper, and memory problems. In even more severe cases, hallucinations and psychotic behavior are frequent.

The researchers found a high concentration of two molecules associated with the brain in the blood of individuals. This discovery led them to think that there was a deterioration of the brain tissue. After a night of sleep, however, the blood composition was average. The experiment did not allow for long-term changes to be observed.

The time limit without sleep

There is no exact answer to the question, “how long can a person last without sleep?”. Officially the record is held by Randy Gardner. In 1965, when he was just a teenager, he spent 264 hours without sleep, or 11 days. He was doing a job for a science festival. The case was documented by psychiatrist J. 

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Christian Gillin, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California.

The student was 17 years old, and the case study stated that he developed various symptoms as time passed. He presented with cognitive deficits, speech and vision problems, and even hallucinations. According to some versions, some people have spent more time without sleeping. For example, there is talk of an English woman who was awake for 18 days to win a bet. These data, however, have not been proven.

It is also known that there are around 40 families worldwide who suffer from a rare disease called fatal familial insomnia. It is a genetic disease that alters the nervous system and generates “holes” in the nervous tissue. Those suffering from this pathology at some point can no longer sleep. After a few weeks as a sleepwalker, he weakens and eventually dies.

Can Lack of Sleeping Lead to Death?

People with fatal familial insomnia die after some time without sleep, but not from lack of sleep. Generalized brain damage causes death. Not being able to sleep is one of the manifestations of this disorder, but not the central axis.  

In the 1980s, an experiment was conducted at the Allan Rechtschaffen Sleep Center of the University of Chicago. In this study, the consequences of lack of sleep were observed in a group of guinea pigs. The animals were forced not to sleep by applying an electric current each time they tried to fall asleep. The result was that between 11 and 32 days, most of the animals had died or were in agony.

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