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Is it possible to die of a lack of sleep?

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    If someone wasn't to sleep for a few weeks??
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    http://bit.ly/xoqJDl

    EDIT: you serious? i just googled it and found the answer much faster
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    yes.
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    Probably. I was hospitalised due to severe insomnia when I was younger. Everyone thought I was going mad because I was hallucinating ie dreaming when awake. It was horrible.
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    Not certain for humans but some lab rats have died from it. When really sleep deprived you may get symptoms of sleeping for between 1 and about 30s. Your brain will completely shut down for this time and you will appear to black out. Basically not a good idea.
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    (Original post by redferry)
    Probably. I was hospitalised due to severe insomnia when I was younger. Everyone thought I was going mad because I was hallucinating ie dreaming when awake. It was horrible.
    That once happened to me when I was 16. I slept on the floor of my mother's room last night.. and would not move. It's so real, and demonic and evil.. scariest moment of my life
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    You can but I'd imagine it's quite rare - providing you're healthy and have no underlying health conditions. When you're TOO tired, you will fall asleep naturally anyway.
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    Your body will force you to sleep unless its drug induced.
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    I'm on day 20 of less than 2 hours sleep a night - still not dead, in fact, I went for a run today!
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    Yes, and I've heard of a few very rare cases in which it's happened. There have been people who found themselves randomly afflicted with a condition preventing them from sleeping at all no matter what doctors tried, then their health failed due to this and they were dead within about six months or so.

    I did see a documentary on YouTube about an American man who suffered from this in the 1990s, but I can't seem to find it right now.
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    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/...061260831.html
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    Sleep deprivation is the worst form of torture and is heavily used for torture tactics.
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    I don't think it's possible. The brain will shut itself down after something like 3 days of being awake non-stop. You won't get a choice in the matter; you'll just become unconscious for a long time. It's a self-preservation mechanism for the brain, to prevent over exhaustion of the brain. That said, I'd say unless you're on some sort of drugs that prevent the brain from functioning properly, it's impossible.
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    I got very little sleep (maybe 1-3 hours max per night, often none at all) for almost a year during my GCSEs.

    I still managed to keep going to school, but I could never stay awake. It was horrible. I used to be sat in lessons and I'd completely blank out every few seconds and have mini dreams, then wake up as I felt my head drooping, dizzy as hell. The mini dreams eventually made it really hard to distinguish what was real and what wasn't. No matter what I did I could not stop these blank-outs.

    I couldn't walk straight, I couldn't think straight, I couldn't order my thoughts enough to speak a full sentence.

    I got extremely depressed, my social anxiety got massively worse and I had panic attacks over everything. I'm not sure how much that was related to lack of sleep, but the more tired I was, the worse it seemed to get.

    But yeah, I didn't die, obviously

    As other people have said, I think in rare cases it's possible to die from it, but usually your body forces you to sleep.
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    Yep.
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    Yes, you need REM-sleep to survive. Your body won't let you stay awake that long though. If you get some sleep, even 1-2 hours, your body will go to REM very quickly for that period of sleep to help you catch up.

    To the person who had mini-dreams and couldn't tell what was real or not, I get them all the time when I've missed just one night of sleep! The worst is when people talk to me and I'm hearing something completely different.
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    I heard somewhere that you die quicker if you go without sleep than without water o.O

    No idea if its true though..
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    I read something once about rats dying after 11 days of sleep deprivation, faster than if they were deprived of food. It's horrible really. I don't function well at all without a lot of sleep, I used to have to get up at 5 to work and I found that I just had to take a nap when I got back or the entire day was wasted. The day still ended up being wasted though cos my sleep pattern that day was messed up, so I stopped doing it. Such a lightweight. My friend barely sleeps at all, it's quite worrying really.
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    (Original post by k9markiii)
    Not certain for humans but some lab rats have died from it. When really sleep deprived you may get symptoms of sleeping for between 1 and about 30s. Your brain will completely shut down for this time and you will appear to black out. Basically not a good idea.
    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/221/4606/182.short .Rechtschaffen et al (1983) conducted one type of these experiments.

    To quote user "dmahr" from Reddit in this thread "http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/q1ryg/with_sleep_deprivation_what_is_t he_actual_cause/?sort=confidence"

    "Rechtschaffen et al (1983) (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/221/4606/182.short) conducted a series of "total sleep deprivation" experiments on pairs of rats in an elegant, if macabre experimental setup. A sleep deprived rat was awoken by being pushed into a pool of water every time its EEG indicated sleep. A control rat was simultaneously pushed into water whenever the deprived rat fell asleep (to control for the stress of being awoken so suddenly) but could still sleep in short bursts. As expected, the sleep deprived rats did not last very long, though the control rats survived.

    Necropsies showed severe issues with the sleep deprived rats, including "fluid in lungs and trachea, collapsed lung, stomach ulcers, internal hemorrhage, edema in limbs, atrophied testicles, scrotal damage, and englarged bladder." Interestingly, "no immediately apparent cause of death was uniform across deprived rats" (empahsis mine).

    So the bottom line is, the biochemical reason that sleep deprivation leads to death is unclear. Everson et al (1999)(http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/278/4/R905.full) suggested that sleep deprivation impaired immune functionality, which in turn lead to septic infection. But Rechtschaffen's reply(http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/280/2/R602.full) to that article suggested otherwise."

    Edit: the amount of **** people make up on this topic is astounding.
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    yes you can but your body usually won't let you get to that stage as it will force you to have mini sleeps... but if you were being tortured so that you couldn't sleep, then yes you would probably die... lab animals have died from sleep deprivation.

    the record for the longest time without sleep is 11 days so good luck with voluntarily staying awake for a few weeks.

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Updated: February 25, 2012
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