How long can you survive without sleep?

Jun 01 , 2020

How long can you survive without sleep?

Sleep deprivation is no joke. New parents will get just four hours and 44 minutes of sleep in an average night during the first year of their baby's life, it has emerged.

In the first 12 months of a child’s life, mothers and fathers sleep 59 per cent less than the recommended eight hours a night, losing the equivalent of 50 nights of sleep.

A typical parent was found to spend 54 minutes per day trying to get their baby to sleep, adding up to almost 14 days in their first year.

Furthermore, mums and dads will also pace the equivalent of two miles while rocking their baby each day and night, totting up to 730 miles – the equivalent of 28 marathons – over a 365-day period.

The study also found sleep deprivation can take an emotional toll on relationships, with the average new-born waking three times a night when they first arrive home.

 Getting enough sleep is vital for both physical and emotional well-being. Sleep deprivation can lead to many short- and long-term health effects.

Sleep requirements vary between people and also depend on a person's age. For example, infants require about twice as much sleep as adults.

However, the amount of time that a person can survive without sleep remains unclear. According to a 2010 review, the current world record for a person going without sleep is 266 hours, which equates to just over 11 days.

The most famous sleep deprivation experiment took place in 1964 when a Californian high school student named Randy Gardner managed to stay awake for 264 hours.

Toward the end of the 11 days, Gardner grew paranoid and even started hallucinating. However, he reportedly recovered without any long-term physical or psychological effects.

General symptoms of sleep deprivation in adults can include:

  • fatigue and sleepiness during the day
  • concentration, alertness, and memory difficulties
  • reduced coordination
  • irritability
  • increased appetite
  • mood changes

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person does not get enough sleep. It is not clear how long a person can go without sleep, but in a famous experiment, a person managed to stay awake for 264 hours.

According to the CDC, at least one in three U.S. adults are not getting enough sleep. Missing 1 or 2 hours of sleep may not seem like a big deal, but it can negatively affect a person's mood, energy levels, and ability to handle complex tasks.

Chronic sleep deprivation can increase a person's risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes.

Most adults need around 7 hours of sleep each night. Practicing good sleep hygiene can promote a better quality of sleep. Sleep hygiene tips include keeping to a consistent sleep schedule, winding down before bedtime, and avoiding caffeine in the evening.


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