How Long Can One Person Last Without Sleep?

How Long Can One Person Last Without Sleep?

4.6 min read

Although it is common knowledge that having enough sleep is important for our mental and physical health, it has not always been possible in every situation. Due to life circumstances and commitments, we may have occasionally resorted to staying up longer in exchange for more time. Whether we were studying for exams or working to complete certain deadlines, going without sufficient sleep should not be a long-term practice. In this article, we will cover how long one person can last without sleep to better understand the human body’s limitations, the side effects of insufficient sleep, and why enough sleep matters.

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How Much Sleep Does a Person Need?

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It is recommended that everyone gets enough sleep to avoid the negative impacts of sleep deprivation such as poor motor skills, depression, and impaired cognitive abilities. Long-term sleep deprivation could eventually lead to other serious issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. The ideal amount of sleep one person needs will depend on several factors such as age, medical condition, and if you were experiencing different stages of pregnancy. Generally, the most common sleep recommendations are based on age:

  • Newborns (0 to 3 months): 14 to 17 hours
  • Infants (4 to 11 months): 12 to 16 hours
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years): 11 to 14 hours
  • Preschool kids (3 to 5 years): 10 to 13 hours
  • School-age kids (6 to 12 years): 9 to 12 hours
  • Teenagers (13 to 17 years): 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults and older teens (18 to 64 years): 7 to 9 hours
  • Seniors (over 65 years): 7 to 8 hours


How Long Can One Person Last Without Sleep?

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The longest extensively documented time that a human has gone without sleep is 11 days and 25 minutes. This world record was set by Randy Gardner in December 1963/January 1964 when he was 17 years old. Due to rising concerns for participants who may suffer ill effects, voluntary sleep deprivation records are no longer kept by Guinness World Records.

Most of us will start noticing the side effects of sleep deprivation after 18 hours of no sleep. If you were not setting world records, the average individual will typically find that three days without sleep will have serious health risks and approaches the limit of our bodies. Reasons some of us may find it challenging to get the recommended hours of sleep can be due to:

  • Uncomfortable beds
  • Busy workloads
  • Having a newborn
  • Taking care of a sick family/friend
  • Jet lag
  • Mental stress
  • Other health issues

Tell Me How You Sleep, And I Will Tell You Who Yo Are

Day One Without Sleep

When life gets busy, it is not uncommon to go one full day without sleep


When life gets busy, it is not uncommon to go one full day without sleep. Doing so poses the risk of daytime drowsiness, impaired judgment, and impaired decision-making. This is the result when certain brain functions stop working as the mind approaches the state known as local sleep. It becomes difficult to concentrate, challenging to stay motivated, and easier to lose focus. The slower reaction times will pose a greater risk for accidents, near misses, and injuries. People will also tend to get irritated and lose patience faster. To understand the severity of sleep deprivation, various studies have found that going without sleep for just one day can result in similar or greater levels of impairment as individuals with a .10% blood alcohol level.

Blood Alcohol Content (%) Condition
.02 to .04 Lightheaded
.05 to .07 Buzzed
.08 to .10 Legally impaired
.11 to .15 Drunk


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Day Two Without Sleep

Without Sleep


After two days of no sleep, our bodies produce the stress hormone known as cortisol at higher levels. This causes an increase in your heart rate, higher blood pressure, and greater stress levels. The feelings on day one of being unmotivated, irritated, and frustrated will become magnified on day two. Due to further cognitive impairment, it becomes difficult to speak clearly with proper intonation and word choices. Body movements will also become clumsy and less coordinated, resulting in more danger when doing tasks such as cooking, driving, or operating heavy equipment. Perhaps the most dangerous thing in this stage is the involuntary quick naps (length of 1 to 30 seconds) you may experience known as microsleeps, which can happen in the middle of a task. Your body will also increase its appetite for sugar or high carbs as a final attempt to raise energy levels.


Day Three Without Sleep

Day Three Without Sleep


On the third day without sleep, the physical effects of sleep deprivation become much more noticeable in the form of headaches, puffy eyes, and dark circles. Along with the other effects experienced on day one and day two being amplified, you may also begin experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, anger, and depression. Some may not even be able to speak or communicate at all due to their cognitive abilities being severely impaired. Many might no longer be able to stay awake without assistance at this stage and will likely experience microsleeps throughout the day without realizing it.


Getting Proper Sleep

Automated adjustable beds


Now that we understand how important sleep is for our bodies, we should try our best to get proper sleep. An uncomfortable bed can sometimes result in an improper resting position for prolonged periods, leading to potential injuries. Automated adjustable beds help users in finding and getting into the proper sleeping positions, preventing new injuries from developing and promoting the recovery of old injuries. Progressive Bed offers a variety of models with different features and price points to choose from, ensuring our range of adjustable beds has something for everyone. There are also lifestyle practices and natural home remedies that can help promote sleep such as:

  • Regulating exposure to light
  • Destressing and calming down
  • Healthy eating practices
  • Daytime physical activities
  • Aromatherapy
  • Proper bedroom temperature
  • Shutting off electronics before bed
  • Check-ups with your doctor
  • Maintaining a consistent schedule

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In Summary

It is important to get enough sleep and balance your workload to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When life gets busy, staying up long hours to work on our tasks might be a feasible short-term practice, however, it is not a sustainable or healthy long-term means of being productive.

We hope this article has helped you understand the limitations of our human bodies and grow a greater appreciation for sleep. If you have any queries or wish to discuss our adjustable bed frames further, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us! We are experts in what we do and want to ensure you find the best comfort bed solutions to meet your needs. | 1-800-828-9381


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