What Happens to Your Body After Days With Zero Sleep

Since when did sleeping become a sign of weakness? Since when did pulling an all-nighter become cool? At any age, under any circumstance, sleep is crucial to anyone’s overall well-being. Lack of sleep at night can result to serious issues at work, at home, and one’s health.

You can say it’s just one night or 36 hours straight, you’re not going to die, right? Probably not, but your body and brain might as well be. The effects of no sleep vary and you’d be surprised at how it affects every aspect of your everyday life: focus, decision making, mood, performance, vulnerability to diseases, personal relationships, and so on down the line.

Let us take a look at how the body responds to sleep, or lack thereof. What happens if you have not been sleeping for a day or two?

Feeling of drowsiness

[caption id="attachment_110922" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to feeling of drowsiness
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Staying awake for 24 hours would give you a feeling of drowsiness. You feel tired even if you have just been sitting all day. You know, that feeling when you couldn’t figure out if you’re awake or half asleep or just recovering from a really bad hangover. And because you’re drowsy, you find it hard to focus and pay attention. One study found that going sleepless for 24 hours is the same as having 0.10 percent blood alcohol content.

Poor judgment and decision making

[caption id="attachment_110921" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to poor judgment and decision making
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What lack of sleep does to your brain is that it impairs your judgement and ability to make sound decisions. If you’ve gone 24 hours without a snooze, simple decisions become hard and complex. And if you are being asked to decide on something you haven’t encountered before, you won’t be able to deliver well. It’s like you just want things to be over and done with, regardless of the consequences. In short, lack of sleep will dumb you down.

Coordination breaks down

[caption id="attachment_110927" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to coordination breaks down
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After 24 hours of not sleeping, your mind can still function reasonably well. You can still arrange a list in alphabetical order or sort things based on color. But the basic cognitive skill of hand-eye coordination can be a bit of a challenge. For example, it would be more difficult to perform a task that would require you to do something with your hands based on visual information.

Reaction slows down

A study on college athletes showed that one night of sleep deprivation can slow down reflexes and reaction times. While they are still being able to perform on the field, their brain is somewhat confused on how to react to certain situations. This is the same with being at work. For example, when your boss is giving an instruction and it takes you more time than usual to react to what he just said. Or in driving, when someone honks, you don’t get it as quick as you used to.

Impaired memory

[caption id="attachment_110925" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to impaired memory
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Going without sleep for 36 hours would impair one’s memory and ability to remember. You really have to understand the importance of complete sleep to your memory. There’s a scientific explanation on why not completing recommended sleeping hours may weaken or damage one’s memory. Brain events or what scientists call “sharp wave ripples” consolidate the memory and transfer the information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. The catch is that these ripples occur during deep levels of sleep. This means if you have gone more than one day without sleeping, your brain cannot form or process memories so much so that you become forgetful and unable to remember words or recall faces.

Getting physical

[caption id="attachment_110924" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to getting physical
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This is also when physical health starts taking its toll. After 36 hours of no sleep, clinical sleep educator Terry Cralle said high levels of inflammatory markers begin to appear in the blood stream, which may lead to cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure. The pressure on the heart begins to increase with higher heart rate.

Experiencing disorientation

Sleep deprivation stages worsen by the hour, and after two days or 48 hours without sleep, the brain just loses it. The subject begins feeling disoriented, as if he is confused where he is or what he is doing. The body shuts down for microsleeps, or those episodes wherein you sleep for half a minute and end up not being sure of what you did. It’s like experiencing blackouts and you don’t even know they are happening. You stare into the distance and you just don’t know what’s going on around you. Starting to understand the symptoms of sleep deprivation helps you to further care for yourself and prevent worse things from happening in your body.

Attack on the immune system

[caption id="attachment_110926" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to attack on the immune system
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The body is put into a lot of stress after 48 hours of staying awake. The body’s immune response falls dramatically and you become sick easily because your system is not able to respond well to infections. The body also finds it hard to recover from sickness when you are sleep deprived.

Prone to accidents

[caption id="attachment_110919" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to prone to accidents
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By this time, your cognitive system is totally whacked. Your brain is not able to react swiftly, which puts you in serious physical danger like being a public safety hazard on the road. Fatigue and sleepiness have been found to be among the main causes of road accidents. In short, after 48 hours without sleep, you are unable to keep yourself out of danger.

Erratic and unstable responses

After 72 hours, you’re just a complete mess and all over the place that you don’t even have an inkling of what is happening. Concentration, focus, and performance deteriorates significantly and you may just have your peers worrying about you. At this point, you are never fully awake.

Depression and paranoia

[caption id="attachment_110923" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to depression and paranoia
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Days without sleep would severely affect your emotional stability. Apart from being easily irritated, you could feel anxious, depressed or paranoid for no reason at all. Not only that, you also have a hard time processing and understanding other people’s emotions like not being able to tell the difference between angry and happy expressions. This effect on emotions can put a strain on personal and professional relationships.

Occurrence of hallucinations

[caption id="attachment_110920" align="aligncenter" width="800"]zero sleep results to occurence of hallucinations
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The worst effects of no sleep are really starting to show on the third day. By this time, you start having weird experiences such as seeing visual illusions. When mental processes are breaking down, the mind becomes ripe for hallucinations and you begin to see things that aren’t really there.

If you go for days without sleeping and experience any of these effects, consult your doctor for sleep deprivation treatment. Do not compromise your health and well-being. To ensure that you get quality slumber, doze off with the Orthocare Harmony mattress. It’s top layer is made of natural latex that adapts to your body, promotes blood circulation, and corrects your spinal alignment. Get those much-needed zzz’s.

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