Published on 11 November 2021

How Long Can You Survive Without Sleeping?

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Table of Contents

Are you a Gen-Z kid? Do you sacrifice your sleep to binge-watch Netflix series? have you thought about not sleeping the whole night to complete your favorite serials? If your answer to any of those questions was a yes, then you have at least once indeed thought about how long one can go without sleeping.  Well, this blog will help you get that answer, but first, let us understand why sleep is essential and how much sleep is adequate for your body.

What Is The Adequate Amount Of Sleep One Needs?

Whatever age you are, getting a good amount of sleep is important for your body. It is a universally accepted fact that every individual requires 8 hours of sleep to function correctly. The amount of sleep one needs is usually divided into different age segments. For example, a newborn baby (0-3 months old) on average requires 14-17 hours of sleep per day, while a toddler or a preschool kid can function very well on just 10-14 hours of sleep per day. A teenager or a young adult requires 8-9 hours of sleep to maintain good health, while older adults can function on 7-8 hours of sleep per day. The amount of sleep required usually goes on decreasing as you grow up.

Although there is a scale for the adequate amount of sleep one requires to function correctly according to age, it isn’t completely accurate. Sleep differs from person to person. An individual can get a good sleep of 14 hours and still feel lazy the whole day, while some people can feel fresh and active even after sleeping only for 5- hours.

Why Is Sleep So Essential?

Getting a good amount of sleep is as vital for you as eating healthy foods and exercise is. Not getting the right amount of sleep can severely affect your health and your daily functioning. Here’s a list of reasons why it is essential to get good deep sleep.

  • Getting the right amount of sleep can boost your immune system to fight off various diseases like cold, flu, etc. getting good sleep means giving good rest to your immune cells to function more efficiently.
  • It can also help you from gaining any more weight. If you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts your appetite, responsible for your late-night cravings.
  • Not getting enough sleep can affect your exercise routine as well. A study found out that basketball players who didn’t sleep well underperformed in the games. In short, sleep is an essential part of your muscle recovery. Not getting enough sleep can reduce your strength and powers.
  • Sleep also impacts your mood. Getting good sleep means being well-rested, which causes your energy levels to soar, elevating your mood.
  • Not getting enough sleep can have adverse effects on your heart as well.  It can cause problems like high blood pressure and even heart attacks.
  • Not getting enough sleep can prove fatal because it reduces your reaction time. This can cause you to get in road accidents that can be lethal. (Kharasch, E.D. and Coopersmith, C.M., 201)

How Long Can You Survive Without Sleep?

The current world record for a person going without sleep is 266 hours, which calculates to a few hours over 11 days.

The answer to the question ‘how long can a person survive without sleep?’ is still not found. Sleep differs from person to person, as mentioned earlier, and hence there can’t be a definite number of days an individual can go without sleeping.

You surely can try to deprive yourself of knowing how long you can go without sleep, but it isn’t advisable to do so because sleep deprivation can have some adverse effects on your physical as well as your mental health. Here’s a list of things that you will start experiencing every passing day if you sleep deprive yourself.

24 hours:

Generally, most people will start experiencing the effects of sleep deprivation in the first 24 hours itself.  A study states that being sleep deprived for 24 hours is equivalent to having a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 %.

You will start seeing symptoms like drowsiness, concentration and memory difficulties, reduced coordination, impaired judgment, raised levels of stress hormones, higher risk of accidents, muscle tension.

These symptoms occur because the brain enters a state called ‘local sleep’ in which the body shuts down a few neurons in some regions of the brain, causing the body to look fully awake but still causing difficulties to perform complex tasks.

48 hours:

After two days, you will find it challenging to stay awake. With every passing hour, sleep deprivation intensifies. After going 48 hours without sleep, your body will start to lose its cognitive ability, and you will start feeling fatigued. By this stage, you will start experiencing microsleep. Microsleeps are short periods of unconsciousness. It occurs involuntarily for a span of several seconds. You might feel confused or distorted after a microsleep. By this time, your immune system will also start taking a hit.

72 hours:

After 72 hours, the sleep deprivation will intensify even more, and you will start getting a strong urge to sleep, and a lot of people can’t stay awake by themselves. With every passing hour, sleep deprivation now will begin having some significant effects on your mood and cognition.

A few symptoms of sleep deprivation you will start feeling are extreme fatigue, severe concentration and memory issues, difficulty multi-tasking, depressed mood, paranoia, difficulty communicating with others.

According to a study of 2015, two astronauts experienced increased heart rate, impaired cognitive functions, and reduction in positive emotions after staying awake for 72 hours.

Going beyond this can have severe long-term effects like obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases, anxiety/ depression, diabetes, etc.


Sleep differs from person to person. One can go two days without sleep, while another would find it hard even to go 24 hours without sleep. You can try to find out how long can ‘you’ last without sleep, but it is highly not advisable because it can severely affect your health both physically and mentally. In short, there isn’t any real answer to the question (Basics, B., 2006)