How long could an average person go without sleep before dying?

I don't mean the VOLUNTARY record, which ranges from 11 days to several decades depending on who you trust.

I mean, if an average person is FORCED to go completely without sleep, how long would he live? (Like, when a lab rat is balanced on a small platform floating on water, it can't sleep because it'll fall in and wake up to prevent itself from drowning. The rat dies after about a month.)

I read in a fictional novel that when the Nazis experimented with this, and people died within a couple days, but it was mentioned very offhandedly and I'm not sure how accurate it is.

I'm not sleep deprived or anything. I'm just curious. And yeah, I know that you don't die directly from lack of sleep, but because of going insane/weakened immune system/etc.

I don't know how many people would know something like this off the top of their heads, but I figure it's worth a shot.

6 Answers

  • Melody
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    People can actually go into a coma after prolonged lack of sleep (talking two weeks here, no sleep, not a singlle minute of napping) and die promplty...not nice...though it would be an interesting way to die...

    That's the thing about sleep. Scientists can't quite figure out what it is our brains do for seven hours every night.

    People venture educated and noneducated guesses, but I don't suppose, at least with our level of technology, we'll ever learn what really happens during sleep.

    Much less, why it's so essential to survival. There are purported accounts of people going years without sleep, although the only scientific study of it in recent times states that over eleven days (roughly) a person would fall into a coma and die thereafter.

    One thing's for sure: whatever goes on up there in our brains, we need it.

    Here's an interesting disorder: fatal familial insomnia (a terminal disease of the brain the progresses to the point of complete sleeplessness, hallucinations, and death)

    Source(s): wikipedia various articles I've read but don't remember the sources
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  • 1 decade ago

    You've many different answers and I'm not sure how anyone can ever verify this either, but here's some thoughts I have. I agree with sleep deprivation alone is not a cause of death. This will give you one or a combination of the cause though. Depending on what made you think of doing this to begin with ( not you specifically ), the next question will be added to there. I've heard of college aged people hazing on idea's like this or intense studying too. Going up in age you might have some elderly marriages of over 50 years and when one dies the other will pass within a month due to a type of natural sleep deprivation thinking this is the fastest way to join their loved one. This could be a type of mental illness combined with it too. From one age on up there will most likely be different amounts of time mixed with many different natural, medical, and mental reasons too. Good luck and God Bless

    Source(s): nursing experience
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  • 1 decade ago

    Not too long after 72 hours a person mental stage drops. And it gets bad after 92 hours. But roughly 28 days.

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  • 4 years ago

    Someone once stayed awake for nine days then he collapsed so fast he broke his nose. Another person once stayed awake for days and she eventually collapsed so fast that she broke a cheekbone. There are people who are unable to collapse from insomnia, they have a rare disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia. Since they can't collapse at all they just die eventually from insomnia.

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  • Josh P
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    * After missing one night of sleep, expect fatigue, reduced attention span and problems with short-term memory.

    * After missing 2 to 3 nights, one will also suffer poor coordination, muscle twitches, marked loss of concentration, impaired judgment, blurred vision, nausea, and slurring of speech. Often one will experience episodes of microsleep (briefly sleeping for a few seconds at a time, without being aware of it).

    * At about 4 to 5 days without sleep, expect extreme irritability, hallucinations, and delusional episodes.

    * After about 6 to 8 missed nights, add slowed speech, tremors in limb extremities, memory lapse, confusion concerning one’s own identity, unusual behavior, and paranoia to the list.

    * After 9 to 11 nights without sleep, fragmented thinking occurs (beginning sentences without completing them), and prolonged episodes of unresponsive “conscious stupor.”

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    you probably wouldn't die you would probably go crazy or sort of mad

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