Everyone knows that sleep is important, but it’s not as well known how dangerous going for too long without sleep can be. Your brain and cognitive functions will start to fail, you can experience hallucinations, and worse.
Just what exactly can sleep deprivation do to you, and can sleep deprivation kill you?
A proper night’s sleep is important for many reasons. Here are just a few of the ways that sleep deprivation can affect you, and how you can improve your sleep.
After pulling an all-nighter, you are going to feel fatigued during the day. Your brain may feel foggy or clouded over. Mood swings are not uncommon, and you will become irritable or annoyed easily.
As far as your physical senses go, you may struggle with your hearing or sight. Your brain will have a harder time processing the world around you, and your movements will be sluggish.
Later on in the day if you continue to stay awake, your brain is going to struggle to retain many of its cognitive functions. You may have a harder time remembering, have a shortened attention span, and have very little energy. You may also experience difficulties in making decisions or problem-solving.
Two days without sleep will both worsen the above symptoms and bring a few new ones with it. You will feel foggy or out of touch with the world around you and may attempt to doze off throughout the day.
At this point, your immune system will also start taking a hit. Such little sleep can cause you to become sicker easier, as sleep helps us repair and restore our immune system to help us fight off illnesses.
It will become increasingly difficult to stay awake after this long without sleep, and the body will force itself into “microsleeps”. The body loses consciousness for anywhere from a few seconds to half a minute, leaving you disoriented and groggy when you “wake up”.
Things are going to get really bad after three days without sleep. The brain becomes so disoriented and exhausted that you may start experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations.
This long without sleep can also cause your heart rate to increase dramatically and will make focusing on anything nearly impossible. Your mood may worsen as well; depression, anxiety, paranoia, and more can occur as your emotions become poorly regulated.
Other ways that your brain may begin to alter reality include a sense of pressure around your skull as well as the belief that inaccurate pieces of information are true. Along with this, your previous symptoms are going to steadily become worse.
4 Days or More
After the three-day mark, your hallucinations will become more common and you will experience a further disconnect from reality. You may even fall into a state of psychosis. If you happen to be unable to fall asleep for this long, you should contact your doctor for help immediately.
Can Sleep Deprivation Kill You?
While death from a lack of sleep is rare, going too long without rest can cause your brain to stop functioning properly, sending the body into organ failure and death. This is because your body requires sleep in order to repair organs and tissues; without the rest, your body simply doesn’t have time to do the repairs required to keep you running properly.
More likely, you may be performing a dangerous task like driving and fall into a microsleep, which could cause a serious accident. If you go too long without sleep, be sure to stay away from dangerous machinery to avoid such an accident.
How to Get Better Sleep
If you’re struggling to get a full night’s sleep, don’t worry. Here are a few steps that you can take to make sure you won’t have to deal with these sleep deficiency side effects.
Create a Nightly Schedule
When it comes to getting to sleep, it’s important to make a routine for yourself. Have a set time that you go to bed and stick to it. You can also add in nightly rituals, such as reading or meditating before bed to help you get relaxed enough to sleep.
Try Melatonin to Help You Sleep
Here’s what you need to know about melatonin. It’s a hormone naturally created in the body that tells your body when to sleep and when to stay awake. However, some people naturally don’t produce enough melatonin, which makes falling and staying asleep a challenge.
Many people take melatonin supplements to combat this and help them sleep. If you often find yourself having a difficult time falling asleep, then ask your doctor about melatonin to find out if it is right for you.
Avoid Electronics Before Bed
Many electronics give off blue light, which can wreak havoc on the eyes and brain. This form of light makes it hard to relax and sleep, so using your laptop, phone, or other electronics before bed is something you should avoid.
Set Up Your Ideal Sleeping Space Ahead of Time
Is there anything you know of that helps you sleep? What is your ideal room temperature and light level? Start setting up your room so that it will be just right when you go to bed. That way, you won’t have to worry about discomfort while you’re trying to sleep.
You can also set up things like a glass of water by your bed at this time too. Getting up and out of bed in the middle of the night can ruin your sleep, so try to avoid the need!
While the answer to the question “can sleep deprivation kill you” is yes, you still have plenty of ways to avoid the negative side effects of sleep deprivation. Pay attention to your body’s needs and rest when you need to, and if you’re ever in doubt, talk with your doctor about potential sleeping solutions for the future.
Have you ever struggled with sleep deprivation? What were your experiences like?
We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment down below with your experiences and continue reading our blog for more helpful tips.