How Long Can You Really Stay Awake Without Any Sleep?
All-nighters are one thing, but all-weekers? What even are these monstrosities? Are these even possible?
At the very least, we have some studies that show us what it's like to go on a few days without rest. Healthline.com, for instance, shows us the side effects of that all-weeker you're trying to pull.
A lot of us have had an all-nighter here and there. Sometimes, the deadlines just call for it or we have that big exam tomorrow. And we can all attest that doing this does, in fact, suck. We can deal with the remorse anyway, we think to ourselves.
Fortunately, the effects aren't as severe yet, proving to us that the human body isn't a little bitch. At this point, we're likely going to experience some irritability, memory deficits, and impaired judgment, among others. We can live with these for a good presentation.
But by the 36-hour mark, sleep depravatireon starts to have an effect on the release of hormones like insulin and cortisol. Our bodily functions are altered, as well. Our metabolism, body temperature, and blood pressure are all compromised. The fatigue is going to be bad and our attention spans suffer from it. Speech impairment comes around this time, as well.
Meanwhile, at 48 hours, people find it hard to even stay up. We are susceptible to basically falling to a light sleep, or as experts call it "microsleeps." Staying up this long also messes with the immune system and will likely be even more prone to illnesses than the usual.
We know better than to stay up all week long, right?
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If we even reach 72 hours without sleep, we are at risk to drop like flies, just like that. Our emotional and physical faculties will be severely impacted by sleep depravation by then. Some research suggests that we won't get to tell which emotion is which. This is also around the same juncture when hallucinations come. That means that we're going to start seeing some pretty weird things, like, real weird.
The point is: the impact of sleep depravation comes a lot sooner than we realize, eventually leading to cognitive impairments, delusions, and paranoia, if we do these all-nighters regularly. In a worst-case scenario (even if the chances are small), we can potentially die from sleep depravation.
While it hasn't really been concluded just how long we can go without sleep, it does present the question: what is the longest someone has gone without getting some shuteye? Interestingly, the world record for most consecutive days without sleep is 11 days and 25 minutes, set by 17-year-old American student Randy Gardner, who did so back in 1963 for a Science Fair. That's about 264 hours of wakefulness.