Have you ever wondered what difference your sleeping habits make in your life? How important is it to get enough sleep every night and what are the consequences of not getting enough sleep? The world we live in can be busy, chaotic and always on the move, but have you ever wondered how long you can actually go without any rest? In this blog post, we’ll explore what happens when a person doesn’t get enough sleep over time and why prioritizing good sleep habits is so crucial for us. Get ready to unlock the secrets of sleep as you find out exactly how long humans can go without their precious sleep!

What happens to our body when we stay awake?

By staying awake for 24 hours, the body experiences a whole host of adverse physical and cognitive effects. Behavioral sleep medicine expert Dr. David M. Rapoport explains that when we are deprived of sleep for such a length of time, our bodies are unable to function optimally and can suffer from severe exhaustion. Indeed, our brain naturally needs periods of rest and relaxation to stay alert and focused. Without these necessary breaks, our brain chemistry goes out of balance, leading to problems with concentration, focus, decision-making ability, and general alertness.

A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) demonstrated that even a single night of sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on cognitive performance. Compared to people who got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, those who were sleep deprived showed shorter reaction times, slower cognitive processing speed and reduced working memory capacity. When the time spent without rest exceeds 24 hours, these deficiencies become more and more serious.

Additionally, the NIH study also found that staying awake for long periods of time can significantly reduce motivation levels. Sleep-deprived people showed a marked decrease in their desire to perform tasks or work efficiently; they just didn’t have the energy to apply themselves fully. The importance of getting enough rest was underscored by research from Harvard Medical School, which showed that a lack of sleep was linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety disorders.


It is therefore clear that when we stay awake for 24 hours or more, our body is under considerable pressure; it impairs our ability to think clearly, lowers motivation levels and increases the risk of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. In order to maximize productivity levels and stay physically and emotionally healthy, it’s important to ensure we get an adequate amount of quality rest each day.

Sleep: Beyond 24 hours, our brain begins to hallucinate.

It is well established in the scientific literature that after 48 hours of total sleep deprivation, individuals begin to experience various forms of cognitive impairment, including hallucinations. According to an article published in the journal Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, sleep loss can quickly lead to physiological and psychological changes, likely due to neural adaptations that occur in response to extreme fatigue. This results in decreased alertness, decreased cognitive performance, lack of concentration, and increased emotional reactivity. Also, as sleep time decreases, people become increasingly prone to experiences such as auditory and visual hallucinations.

This phenomenon has long been observed in studies of people kept awake for long periods of time by forced arousal protocols. In a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), researchers found that after 36 hours without sleep, subjects showed signs of impaired mental functioning such as “attention control disorders”. and “delusions”. Additionally, they reported an increased prevalence of hallucinatory experiences during this time.

The same study also showed that there was a strong correlation between prolonged wakefulness and more severe mental impairments, including distortions in perception, thought processes, and behavior.

Science: How long could a human stay awake?

According to research conducted by Dr. Alexandros Vgontzas and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, it is possible for humans to go up to 11 days without sleep in the laboratory. That’s according to an experiment in which a group of 17 healthy people were monitored for 11 days at the SLEEP lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where they weren’t allowed to sleep. The results showed that after a few sleepless nights, hormones associated with stress – such as cortisol – increased significantly, even though the participants were not doing any activity.

Additionally, other studies conducted on the effects of extreme sleep deprivation have shown that lack of sleep can lead to significant cognitive deficits, including impaired decision-making, impaired learning and recall. memory, as well as an increased risk of mental health problems. A study published in the Sleep Disorders: Research and Treatment journal showed that after seven days of total sleep deprivation, subjects experienced emotional instability, hallucinations, paranoia, and difficulty concentrating.

Trying to break world records for sleep deprivation is therefore strongly discouraged, as the risks simply outweigh the potential benefits associated with this behavior.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.