How long without sleep

  • Thread starter wolram
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  • #1
wolram
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Due to my illness i have not slept for 72 hours, i have had some cat naps of 10 mins or so,
my question is how long could a body keep this up.
 

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  • #2
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Not sure how long the 'average person' can last, but while in boot camp, I had to stay awake for four day's once..

.. it sucked.
 
  • #3
FlexGunship
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Due to my illness i have not slept for 72 hours, i have had some cat naps of 10 mins or so,
my question is how long could a body keep this up.
72 hours?! That means you already got your second wind (around 32 hours awake) and now you're into the downward spiral. I'm not sure what your illness it, but I'd talk to a doctor about some Ambien (or something comparable). The ability to induce a deep sleep is pretty important.

If you don't get enough sleep, as your brain begins to lose control, you're likely to start new threads in the General Discussion forum!
 
  • #4
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If you don't get enough sleep, as your brain begins to lose control, you're likely to start new threads in the General Discussion forum!
Don't you mean philosophy? :wink:
 
  • #5
Evo
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Due to my illness i have not slept for 72 hours, i have had some cat naps of 10 mins or so,
my question is how long could a body keep this up.
Wolram, that's bad. Tell your doctor you're not sleeping, rest is so important especially when you are ill.
 
  • #6
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72hr is insane. i am surprised you can actually sit in front of your comp & make this post.
i think i've exceeded 24hr a couple of times and it gets really bad. i feel exhausted but just dont fall asleep or maybe sleep for 2hr and wake up! quite crazy, i dont understand why that happens.
on the contrary if i sleep a lot, like in excess of 10hr, i feel lazy all day & start feeling sleepy earlier.
 
  • #7
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How long before you die? People can live for several months without sleep and not die. You eventually die, but I don't know what actually causes the death.
 
  • #8
lisab
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I hope Wooly's sleeping now!
 
  • #9
drizzle
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If you don't get enough sleep, as your brain begins to lose control, you're likely to start new threads in the General Discussion forum!
Haha. I'm a bit hesitant, that's why I insist to lock PFRT. :grumpy:



WAKE UP Wooly! You've had enough sleep. We need you to start another thread. :biggrin:
 
  • #10
The fact that you're getting even brief naps is very good, but Evo is right: tell your doctor. I don't know what your illness is, but if we're talking about an infection of some kind, remember that sleep is (probably) crucial to the maintenance of your immune system.

Anyway, to directly answer you: unless exhaustion becomes part of a larger crash, then it's an issue. Generally, people will become so exhausted that they'll begin to "lose time", and experience cat-naps while apparently awake: that would be your second BIG warning sign.

The warning sign you need to be aware of, that will be your bell-weather in the world of sleep deprivation, are 2 classes of hallucinations.
The first are... first... and appear to be dark (often brown) spots or blobs just at the corners of the vision, racing out of the field of vision. The second, far more worrying, is the perception of insects on or in the skin, and is a sign that there is damage beginning to occur in the brain.

In terms of actually living through this?... not the issue: unless you have a grave illness of a peculiar type, this won't kill you directly. It DOES put you at a far greater risk for muscular and connective tissue injuries, and other injury while driving or even during normal activity. Over time, generally around the 7 day mark, you begin to do irreversible damage to your brain that gets ugly very quickly, and eventually people essentially begin to experience REM while appearing awake and...

paranoia
psychosis
fatal cardiac event (especially arrhythmia)
damage to the hippocampus and probably a lot more
coma
death

So... yeah, get some sleep, but 72, or even 96 hours will make you miserable beyond belief, but it won't kill you. Stay hydrated, stay safe, and contact your GP or an ER if this persists: you need sleep to live, and brain chemistry is variable; don't take risks on when you'll start to do lasting damage.
 
  • #11
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The fact that you're getting even brief naps is very good, but Evo is right: tell your doctor. I don't know what your illness is, but if we're talking about an infection of some kind, remember that sleep is (probably) crucial to the maintenance of your immune system.

Anyway, to directly answer you: unless exhaustion becomes part of a larger crash, then it's an issue. Generally, people will become so exhausted that they'll begin to "lose time", and experience cat-naps while apparently awake: that would be your second BIG warning sign.

The warning sign you need to be aware of, that will be your bell-weather in the world of sleep deprivation, are 2 classes of hallucinations.
The first are... first... and appear to be dark (often brown) spots or blobs just at the corners of the vision, racing out of the field of vision. The second, far more worrying, is the perception of insects on or in the skin, and is a sign that there is damage beginning to occur in the brain.

In terms of actually living through this?... not the issue: unless you have a grave illness of a peculiar type, this won't kill you directly. It DOES put you at a far greater risk for muscular and connective tissue injuries, and other injury while driving or even during normal activity. Over time, generally around the 7 day mark, you begin to do irreversible damage to your brain that gets ugly very quickly, and eventually people essentially begin to experience REM while appearing awake and...

paranoia
psychosis
fatal cardiac event (especially arrhythmia)
damage to the hippocampus and probably a lot more
coma
death

So... yeah, get some sleep, but 72, or even 96 hours will make you miserable beyond belief, but it won't kill you. Stay hydrated, stay safe, and contact your GP or an ER if this persists: you need sleep to live, and brain chemistry is variable; don't take risks on when you'll start to do lasting damage.
Back at OTS, we called our main lecture hall the "big blue room," and and I experienced REM sleep while awake along with perhaps a third of the others in my class. Thank God that didn't last.

Years later, I averaged less than 2.5 hrs of sleep a night for 34 months before finally obtaining the appropriate help.

Some docs are great! Some docs are retards. I got the latter for nearly 3 years. The guy who finally helped me with the proper meds wasn't a doc at all. He was a psychiatric nurse.

Go fig.
 
  • #12
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now would be a good time to watch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/" [Broken]
 
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  • #13
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Several months. People with FFI suffer through similar symptoms, but astronomically worse, for almost a year. You really should see a doctor. But if for some reason that's not possible, I recommend at least getting some melatonin pills.
 
  • #14
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2
I found today that polar bears can stay awake and travel continuously for more than a week; however, I need at least 8 hours of sleep to function normal. 10 hours sleep is ideal. I cannot think when I don't get 7 hours sleep at minimum in a period of 24 hours.
 
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  • #15
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Randy Gardner holds the scientifically documented record for the longest period of time a human being has intentionally gone without sleep not using stimulants of any kind. In 1964—as a 17-year-old high school student in San Diego, California—Gardner stayed awake for 264 hours (eleven days), breaking the previous record of 260 hours held by Tom Rounds of Honolulu
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Gardner_(record_holder [Broken])

Personally I feel like I've been hit by a train if I get less than say five hours of sleep a night.
 
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  • #16
wolram
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Wolram, that's bad. Tell your doctor you're not sleeping, rest is so important especially when you are ill.
My psychiatrist has doubled the dose of Zopiclone to 7,i/2 mg even that hasn't worked, i did get a couple of hours sleep last night thou.
 
  • #17
Back at OTS, we called our main lecture hall the "big blue room," and and I experienced REM sleep while awake along with perhaps a third of the others in my class. Thank God that didn't last.

Years later, I averaged less than 2.5 hrs of sleep a night for 34 months before finally obtaining the appropriate help.

Some docs are great! Some docs are retards. I got the latter for nearly 3 years. The guy who finally helped me with the proper meds wasn't a doc at all. He was a psychiatric nurse.

Go fig.
Never underestimate a nurse, especially nurses who bother to specialize: they run hospitals at the non-administrative level. I'm glad you got that help, but it's more than a little painful to know that there are many MANY others who are stuck with, "the latter" until they say, 'the hell with this,' and drink or take drugs that do the job.

Then, years later, some little punk can step over them on the street, because, "we take care of our veterans." :grumpy:


Greg: Randy was lucky that he was young: his brain had a chance to re-wire around the damage, and less damage was probably done to begin with. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-long-can-humans-stay

I assume this is where you got the Gardner info? Remember, "awake" for 11 days without chemical aids = not awake for 11 days. Now, take the case of that radio host in the 50's who DID use amphetamines to truly STAY AWAKE, until even the drugs stopped doing the trick and he lapsed into waking REM (long term, not brief). They cut the experiment, but his personality had so changed that his wife divorced him, he lost most of his previous social contacts, and by all accounts had become moody and erratic.

Even with the body desperately going DIRECTLY to REM sleep (Gardner), you still have this observation:

SciAm said:
The easy experimental answer to this question is 264 hours (about 11 days). In 1965, Randy Gardner, a 17-year-old high school student, set this apparent world-record for a science fair. Several other normal research subjects have remained awake for eight to 10 days in carefully monitored experiments. None of these individuals experienced serious medical, neurological, physiological or psychiatric problems. On the other hand, all of them showed progressive and significant deficits in concentration, motivation, perception and other higher mental processes as the duration of sleep deprivation increased. Nevertheless, all experimental subjects recovered to relative normality within one or two nights of recovery sleep. Other anecdotal reports describe soldiers staying awake for four days in battle, or unmedicated patients with mania going without sleep for three to four days.

The more difficult answer to this question revolves around the definition of "awake." As mentioned above, prolonged sleep deprivation in normal subjects induces altered states of consciousness (often described as "microsleep"), numerous brief episodes of overwhelming sleep, and loss of cognitive and motor functions. We all know about the dangerous, drowsy driver, and we have heard about sleep-deprived British pilots who crashed their planes (having fallen asleep) while flying home from the war zone during World War II. Randy Gardner was "awake" but basically cognitively dysfunctional at the end of his ordeal.

In the case of rats, however, continuous sleep deprivation for about two weeks or more inevitably caused death in experiments conducted in Allan Rechtschaffen�s sleep laboratory at the University of Chicago. Two animals lived on a rotating disc over a pool of water, separated by a fixed wall. Brainwaves were recorded continuously into a computer program that almost instantaneously recognized the onset of sleep. When the experimental rat fell asleep, the disc was rotated to keep it awake by bumping it against the wall and threatening to push the animal into the water. Control rats could sleep when the experimental rat was awake but were moved equally whenever the experimental rat started to sleep. The cause of death was not proven but was associated with whole body hypermetabolism.
Again, 7 days, awake, you're in trouble... 8-10 is a record unaided, and you're a complete basket case after... it's that RAPID decline that's so troubling, and why it's better just to avoid sleep deprivation if you can.

As a practical answer to the question: '[Wolram] cannot sleep for 3 days, and is concerned,' should be: yeah, that's cause for a little concern, and medication.'
 
  • #18
My psychiatrist has doubled the dose of Zopiclone to 7,i/2 mg even that hasn't worked, i did get a couple of hours sleep last night thou.
Huh... you know Zopiclone (stereo-isomer of 'Lunesta') is great at inducing sleep, but it can also disrupt the normal course of REM sleep. I'm not questioning your doctor's choice, and I can understand wanting to stay away from benzodiazapines or barbiturates, BUT...

... Zopiclone can cause rebound-insomnia, so it may be that by the time your nightly dose "kicks in", you're really just feeding a growing tolerance to fight the rebound. It might be worth exploring with your doctor, if this medication is helping you in the manner intended, or if this is just shifting to a less obvious and legally "pernicious" dependence? If you're going to be taking a strong, addictive hypnotic, you might as well go for one that does the job.
 
  • #19
wolram
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Thanks for all the replies guys, you don't know how much it means to me to have some one to talk to. :smile:
 
  • #20
Thanks for all the replies guys, you don't know how much it means to me to have some one to talk to. :smile:
Hang in there wooly ram... you have a doctor there who has you in their care, and what I like to call (the Evo/MIH crew) there for you at bare minimum! Remember, even if you can't sleep, a little meditation or self-hypnosis, change of scenery (even if it's changing rooms) can help.

Impairment comes before damage, so everyone here and in your life will know you need help before you NEED it right away. The internet may not be life, but it has its moments.
 
  • #21
100
1
i'd say a day of physical labor, followed by a feast in the evening, and maybe that aforementioned melatonin.
 
  • #22
i'd say a day of physical labor, followed by a feast in the evening, and maybe that aforementioned melatonin.
If the psychiatrist OK's it, and it's compatible with your illness, you could just lift soup cans all day.

Good idea if passes the Dr's muster.
 
  • #23
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I always find the best cure for insomnia is the knowledge that it's time to get up and go to work.

Seriously though, hope everything works out for you, wolram. Insomnia can be pretty awful. Take care of yourself!
 
  • #24
wolram
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I always find the best cure for insomnia is the knowledge that it's time to get up and go to work.

Seriously though, hope everything works out for you, wolram. Insomnia can be pretty awful. Take care of yourself!
Thanks Grep, its 2 15 in the morning where i live, i just can not get any sleep .
 
  • #25
That is horrible. Wolram, as a typical teenager, my usual sleeping habits run around 3-7 hours. You not sleeping for 72 hours and going, thats - how are not a walking zombie with peircing pain going up your brain every 5 seconds?! To sleep, some things that have worked for me include:
Sorting out some kind of inner conflict that's perhaps, subconsciously keeping me from sleeping.
Drugging myself on sleeping pills (always being careful with dosage)
Meditation, forcing myself to blank everything out and keep it out, even just for a bit.
Sleeping on the kitchen floor or basement floor(both these places have either marble flooring or minimal heating, it works, oddly enough.)
Excessively excersizing.
I'm so sorry you have to suffer this. :\
 

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