What Would Happen If You Did NOT Sleep?

We all know sleep is necessary for all of us. But have you ever what happens when you don’t sleep? We break down what lack of sleep does in this FTD Facts episode.

1. Studies looked at the loss of sleep and how it can effect people. There are variations in the severity of lack of sleep. Most severe case was a 17 year old boy who went days without sleep, and started to suffer from certain symptoms. By the second day, his eye lids stopped focusing and he lost the ability to identify objects. By day 3, he was moody and uncoordinated, by the end of the test, which spanned over 11 days, he had trouble with short term memory and even started hallucinating. 11 days, that’s a terrifyingly long time!

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2. Long term sleep loss can result in hormonal imbalance, illness, and in extreme cases, death. A sleep study in the U.S. showed that 30% of adults were sleep deprived and 66% of adolescents were sleep deprived, which can have massive effects on our physical and mental health.

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3. The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep, and the average adolescent needs about 10. Are you getting enough?

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4. When we lose our regular sleep pattern… Learning, memory, mood and reaction time are all affected and sleeplessness has been linked to diabetes and obesity.

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5. In 2014, a devoted soccer fan died after staying awake for 48 hours to watch the world cup. Okay, his death was connected to a stroke, BUT studies show that chronically sleeping fewer than six hours a night increases stroke risk by 4.5 times compared with those getting a consistent seven to eight hours.

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6. Insomnia… Ever heard of this challenging condition? It effects so many people around the world! It’s a rare genetic mutation called “fatal familial insomnia”, where people can’t sleep at all, and if it gets progressively worse over months or years, it can lead to dementia and death. Serious stuff.

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7. People first begin to feel sleepy from environmental signals, being dark outside for example, and then also by brain chemicals telling us we’re tired. While we’re awake, cells in our body produce the chemical adenosine and melatonin as a waste product which builds up in the brain and is known as “sleep pressure”. As the melatonin and adenosine build up in our minds we go into a light doze which makes breathing slower and our heart rate slowed down as well as muscles relaxing, telling us we need to close our eyes and sleep to allow our bodies a chance to replenish and repair DNA.

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8. Lack of shut eye can also lead to hormonal imbalances and illness.

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9. There are different levels of shut eye. In a night’s sleep one goes through a cycle of REM and non-REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. REM usually happens 90 minutes after falling asleep. During REM sleep, your eyes move quickly in different directions, that doesn’t happen in non-REM sleep. Non-REM comes first when you fall asleep, followed by REM sleep. And then the cycle begins again. Alternating periods throughout the night. Each stage can last 5-15 minutes. First you shut your eyes, it’s easy to wake up if someone tried. Then you go into a light sleep, your heart rate slows down and your body temperature drops, your body is getting ready for deep sleep. Then stage 3 comes and it’s the deep sleep faze. It’s harder to wake someone up during this faze and if they did, you would probably feel disoriented for a few minutes. REM sleep is when your brain is the most active and that’s when dreams occur.

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There’s a lot to learn when it comes to sleep. But most important to keep in mind, is get enough of it!! Adults, make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours a night. If you don’t, health consequences are inevitable.

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