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How long without sleep

  1. Jan 25, 2011 #1


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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.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2011 #2
    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.
  4. Jan 25, 2011 #3


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    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!
  5. Jan 25, 2011 #4
    Don't you mean philosophy? :wink:
  6. Jan 25, 2011 #5


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    Wolram, that's bad. Tell your doctor you're not sleeping, rest is so important especially when you are ill.
  7. Jan 25, 2011 #6
    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.
  8. Jan 25, 2011 #7
    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.
  9. Jan 25, 2011 #8


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    I hope Wooly's sleeping now!
  10. Jan 25, 2011 #9


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    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:
  11. Jan 25, 2011 #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...

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

    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.
  12. Jan 25, 2011 #11
    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.
  13. Jan 25, 2011 #12
    now would be a good time to watch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  14. Jan 25, 2011 #13
    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.
  15. Jan 25, 2011 #14
    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.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  16. Jan 25, 2011 #15
    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.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  17. Jan 26, 2011 #16


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    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.
  18. Jan 26, 2011 #17
    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:

    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.'
  19. Jan 26, 2011 #18
    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.
  20. Jan 26, 2011 #19


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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:
  21. Jan 26, 2011 #20
    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.
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