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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior

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Biology 202
2001 Third Web Report
On Serendip

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior

by S.L.

Sleep deprivation is a commonplace occurrence in modern culture. Every day there seems to be twice as much work and half as much time to complete it in. This results in either extended periods of wakefulness or a decrease in sleep over an extended period of time. While some people may like to believe that they can train their bodies to not require as much sleep as they once did this belief is false (1). Sleep is needed to regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain, so that it may continue to function optimally. After periods of extended wakefulness or reduced sleep neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly effecting a person's behavior. Some organs, such as muscles, are able to regenerate even when a person is not sleeping so long as they are resting. This could involve lying awake but relaxed within a quite environment. Even though cognitive functions might not seem necessary in this scenario the brain, especially the cerebral cortex, is not able to rest but rather remains semi-alert in a state of "quiet readiness" (2). Certain stages of sleep are needed for the regeneration of neurons within the cerebral cortex while other stages of sleep seem to be used for forming new memories and generating new synaptic connections. The effects of sleep deprivation on behavior have been tested with relation to the presence of activity in different sections of the cerebral cortex.

The temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex is associated with the processing of language. During verbal learning tests on subjects who are fully rested functional magnetic resonance imaging scans show that this area of the brain is very active. However, in sleep deprived subjects there is no activity within this region (3), (4), (5). The effects of this inactivity can be observed by the slurred speech in subjects who have gone for prolonged periods with no sleep (6).

Even severely sleep deprived people are still able to perform to some degree on a verbal learning test. This implies that some other area of the brain must become active to compensate for the loss of temporal lobe functioning. In fact, activity can be seen in the parietal lobe that is not present during verbal learning tests using rested subjects (5). Greater activity within this region corresponded to better performance by subjects in research studies (7). Still, sleep deprived people do not perform as well on these tests as do fully rested subjects (3), (4). One possible reason for the poorer performance after missing sleep, aside from unregenerated neurons, could be the fact that since the parietal lobe is not usually used to performing tasks such as these it is not as adept at carrying them out. Therefore, when control switches from the temporal lobe to the parietal lobe some speed and accuracy is naturally lost. Interestingly, sleep deprived subjects have been shown to have better short-term memory abilities than their well-rested counterparts (6). Since memory is associated with this region of the cerebral cortex the fact that it is already active in sleep deprived people could make it easier for new synapses to be created, thus forming new short-term memories more easily.

While activity is seen within the parietal lobes of rested people as they think through math problems no corresponding activity is visible within the brains of sleep-deprived subjects. Also, no new area of the brain becomes active while the sleep deprived people work on math problems. Since sleep deprived people can still complete math problems, albeit with less speed and accuracy than a well-rested individual, this data implies that a region of the brain already in use is used for this task (1).

The frontal lobe is the most fascinating section of the brain with relation to sleep deprivation. Its functions are associated with speech as well as novel and creative thinking (5). Sleep deprived test subjects have difficulties thinking of imaginative words or ideas. Instead, they tend to choose repetitious words or clichéd phrases. Also, a sleep-deprived individual is less able to deliver a statement well. The subject may show signs of slurred speech, stuttering, speaking in a monotone voice, or speaking at a slower pace than usual (6). Subjects in research studies also have a more difficult time reacting well to unpredicted rapid changes. Sleep deprived people do not have the speed or creative abilities to cope with making quick but logical decisions, nor do they have the ability to implement them well. Studies have demonstrated that a lack of sleep impairs one's ability to simultaneously focus on several different related tasks, reducing the speed as well as the efficiency of one's actions (8). A person may be able to react to a complex scenario when suddenly presented with it but, similar to the verbal tests, the subject will most likely pick an unoriginal solution. If presented with a similar situation multiple times with slight variations in the information presented the subject chooses the same solution, even though it might not be as applicable to the new senario (9).

Part of the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex, has several functions specifically coupled with it. Judgment, impulse control, attention, and visual association have all been related to this region of the cerebral cortex (8). A recent study has shown that the prefrontal cortex, usually the most active area of the brain in rested individuals, becomes more active as a person remains awake for long periods of time (3), (4). This region regenerates during the first stage of sleep, giving a person the ability to feel somewhat refreshed after only a short nap (5). The length of the first stage of sleep cycle is somewhat dependant upon how long the person had previously been awake. The longer the period of wakefulness, the longer the brain remains in the first stage of sleep. When the brain enters into the REM stage of sleep the prefrontal cortex is active once more.

The implications of this data seem to be fairly important in supporting the location of the I-function within the brain. The prefrontal cortex is active whenever a person is awake, no matter how little sleep they have had. Also, this area is active while dreaming. Since the individual is aware of him or herself during both of these instances, but is not aware during the stages of sleep when the prefrontal cortex is shut down, it seems logical that the I-function is located within this region. This indicates that the I-function is what is resting and regenerating during the first stage of sleep. It would be interesting to study prefrontal cortex activity while a person is conscious, but unaware of his or her actions, due to an influence such as drugs or alcohol. According to the results of the sleep deprivation studies little or no activity should be seen in the prefrontal cortex at anytime when the individual is unaware of his or herself.

One of the symptoms of prolonged sleep deprivation is hallucinations (10). This could also be related to the I-function since it is the system that integrates the input from all other areas of the brain. If the neurons composing the I-function become too taxed then the picture in the head that the I-function produces may be more dissimilar from reality than usual. The neurons, under pressure to continue functioning but unable to perform optimally, create an image useful enough for a person to see most of his or her surroundings. Metabolic activity in the prefrontal cortex can drop as much as eleven percent after a person has missed sleep for only twenty four hours (8). As a person loses more sleep or continues to receive less-than-adequate amounts of sleep the neurons become even more taxed and the I-function may begin to generate even less coherent images possibly resulting in temporary insanity.

Another piece of evidence supporting the location of the I-function is that mammals have REM sleep whereas cold-blooded animals do not and mammals have a neocortex, located within the prefrontal cortex, while cold-blooded animals do not. REM sleep stimulates areas of the brain used for learning and memory (10). When a person is taught a new skill his or her performance does not improve until he or she receives at least eight hours of sleep (11). An extended period of sleep ensures that the brain will be able to complete the full sleep cycle, including REM sleep. The necessity of sleep for learning could be due to the fact that sleep increases the production of proteins while reducing the rate at which they are broken down (10). Proteins are used to regenerate the neurons within the brain. Without them new synapses may not be able to be formed, thus limiting the amount of information a sleep-deprived individual can maintain.

One of the possible side effects of a continued lack of sleep is death. Usually this is the result of the fact that the immune system is weakened without sleep. The number of white blood cells within the body decreases, as does the activity of the remaining white blood cells. The body also decreases the amount of growth hormone produced (8). The ability of the body to metabolize sugar declines, turning sugar into fat. One study stated that people who sleep less than four hours per night are three times more likely to die within the next six years (11). Although the longest a human has remained awake was eleven days rats that are continually deprived of sleep die within two to five weeks, generally due to their severely weakened immune system (10), (11), (12).

In a way sleep deprivation studies help us to study the relationship between the brain and behavior in a very unique way by observing how a person's behavior changes as the brain shuts down. By taking images of the brain showing where activity is located it is possible to correlate the behavior exhibited by a subject with his or her brain patterns. Just like a person cannot jog for three continuous days a person's brain cannot operate without rest breaks. Since different regions of the brain rest during different stages of the sleep cycle, sleep cannot be cut short. In fact, if the brain does not receive a break it will soon begin to shut down for periods of microsleep. This is essentially several seconds of actual sleep; delta waves that interrupt the regular EEG of an awake person thereby impairing his or her continuity of cognitive function. Microsleep generally happens directly before performance failure occurs (8). Without sleep our brains deteriorate, and if the argument that brain=behavior is true, then our behavior will also suffer accordingly.


WWW Sources

1) an article written by the military concerning sleep deprivation, on the Marine Corps University web site

2) Sleep Loss and Frontal Lobe Function, Loughborough Sleep Research Centre

3)study of brain activity and sleep deprivation, University of California San Diego

4) study of brain activity and sleep deprivation, Nature

5) Lack of Sleep Takes Toll on Brain Power, on WebMD website

6) This is your Brain without Sleep, on health website

7) Sleep-deprived brain can call in reinforcements, CNEWS science website

8) Normal sleep and sleep deprivation, on emedicine website

9) Sleep Deprivation and Cognitive Function, Loughborough Sleep Research Centre

10) Brain Basics- Understanding Sleep, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes

11)a journalist's experience with sleep deprivation, men's journal website

12) psychology class lecture notes, State University of New York Stony Brook




Continuing conversation
(to contribute your own observations/thoughts, post a comment below)

10/15/2005, from a Reader on the Web

I have a comment and concern with sleep deprivation. Several of my friends actually stay up and get only 3 hours of sleep then go to school and work. They say that they recieve somewhat of a "buzz" as if they smoked a small amount of weed or drank alchohol. Is this anything that has been heard of before?

11/06/2005, from a Reader on the Web

i know for a fact that you can go for more then 11 days with out sleep because i went 4 weeks playing computer games on a bet and won but i would never try it again the last 2 weeks it was hard to tell real from not and the stress has caused me some memory loss

11/09/2005, from a Reader on the Web

Just an suggest a sleep deprived person uses a different portion of the brain for activities such as speech than a rested individual. I have noticed that at times of my own sleep deprivation it's almost as though my subconscious thought processes have been re-routed through my speech centre...or at very least through my "top-of-mind" thought centre. (Please excuse my lack of technical terminology...I'm not especially well researched in this area.) For example I may find myself aware of the fact that I'm short of breath...and subsequently need to remind myself to breathe...or blink...and sometimes find myself verbalising these stream-of-consciousness processes. Perhaps more concerning are those times I have found myself verbalising these processes while driving...along with the other driving-related requirements (ie. indicate now, clutch and brake, left-hand down a bit...) Any thoughts? Has this been observed elswhere or was it something I imagined in my sleep-deprived state? Darren

11/17/2005, from a Reader on the Web

My Colleges and I are begining an independant sleep deprivation study, our goal is to remain awake anywhere from ninety-six to one hundrend sixty-eight hours. We were wondering when the Hallucinations occur\what they entail, and how great the effects are on behavior\health before continuing. Thus far, two of us have been designated to conduct this experiment, and the other two stationed to observe. The two that are being deprived of sleep have been awake for 25 hours, 40 minuets, 45 seconds and still going. Any advise?

12/12/2005, from a Reader on the Web

This is in response to the question posted on 10/15/2005 on the page /bb/neuro/neuro01/web3/Ledoux.html: Yes, I believe this effect would happen in case of moderate sleep deprivation. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter which is used up during the sleep cycles, is partially responsible for mood balance. The longer a person sleeps, the more serotnin gets used up in the brain, resulting in somewhat of a depressed state of mind - the lethargy we feel if we sleep, say, 14 hours straight. (Antidepressant drugs such as Prozac work by inhibiting the excessive consumption of serotonin in the brain.) The reverse of this is when we don't get enough sleep, there is a slight excess of serotonin in the brain, resulting in the "buzz" you mentioned. It's tired hyperactivity, not really an energetic state.

12/16/2005, from a Reader on the Web

I think the "buzz" associated with not sleeping has to do with the hallucinations that being to affect the brain after long bouts with no sleep. I suffer from insomnia occasionally and after a long day at work I am definitly not right in the head.

01/04/2006, from a Reader on the Web

hello my forst time here. I was looking for the functions of the 345 cranial nerves. I have a tumor pressing on it and I want to know there functions, Thank you



Additional comments made prior to 2007

my mom works most nights from 9:45 pm until 7:30 am. by the time she gets home i am about to go to school so i dont see her during the day. when i am at school she is takind medical classes untill about 2:30 pm. she tries to take a nap until i get home at around 3:30 pm. She hardley eats and she comlains aout gaining weight but no more than 20 lbs. today she threw up. i asked her are u ok. she said its fine ive been doin this for a few months now. "mom , why didnt you tell me?" i said. she replied, " u dont need to kno, its just a fact of survival now." i told her she needs to go see the doctor. she refuses, shes a busy woman. I read somewhere that if u have a serious case of sleep deprevation, then u are able to die within the next 6 years. I love my mom to death and i am starting to get worried , she hardly sleeps and when she does it is for short amounts of time. please email me back and tell me if there is anything i can advise to my mom. I care about her so much and!
i dont want her to be hurt or sick. I would greatly appriciate it. Thank you ... Ty, 31 January 2006


Does lack of sleep increase your appetite? ... Jenna McLaughlin, 5 February 2006


I have a hard time sleeping sometimes, I am guessing insomnia I dont know for sure. I am a student and also work a very physically demanding job. I have found that I can barely work some days and others I have an incredible amount of enerrgy. I have also realized I suffer bouts of depression and was wondering if this is related to the lack of sleep I suffer from. I also at times break down from what I beleive is stress. Could the lack of sleep cause more stress or even make the already present stress even more, for lack of a better word, stressful? Thank you ... Nathaniel Kiser, 17 February 2006


I have suffered from some sort of sleep disorder all of my life. I can sometimes get 2-3 hours a night, usually I do not sleep at all. This lasts for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. I recently completed a sleep study. The test showed that I have leg movements at 60-70x per hour, while the normal rate is 10-15x, when I am actually asleep. However, my brain activity is rapid and constant, as opposed to being stimulated by the leg activity. Doctor's questions seemed to indicate a suspicion of bi-polar disorder, but no other symptoms are present. I was prescribed Requip for the restless legs, but had no success with it.

I experience some mild exhaustion during the day, but never to the point of needing a nap. I have taken the Epworth test and my final score was 1. I do not feel impaired; actually I am quite energetic. I work out 3-4x a week, do not intake caffeine, sugar or any other stimulants. The longest I have gone without any sleep at all is 5 days, then got flu-like symptoms and slept for about 8 hours-a sleep marathon, so to speak. Then back to the same routine.

I am deeply concerned about the long term effects on my body. I am a 37 year old female with no serious health problems to speak of. I have tried numerous sleep aids, ranging from herbal alternatives, over the counter medicines to hard core prescription medications (ex: 800 mg of Seroquel). Shockingly, none of them have helped my sleeplessness. It is almost like I just simply do not have an "off" button.

If there is anyone out there who might be able to shed some light on this problem, or anyone who may be suffering from the same symptoms, I would certainly welcome any commentary and/or suggestions ... BZ, 21 February 2006


I am currently serving in the US Army. I can guaruntee you that i only get around 2 to 4 hours of sleep a night. I work all day and basically all night. I train for war. There are short periods i guess you would call it microsleep, that occur to me when i am driving a humvee. i pass out for i guess 5 seconds which seems like 5 minutes. i do have trouble thinking of solutions and most of the time my words are kind of slurred. Sometimes i cannot stay focus on any task and just sit on a chair staring into the great unknown. Everyone in the army works extremely hard everyday and everynight going without sleep for 3 or 4 days.. probably only getting 2 to 4 hours asleep a night. i feel dead inside. when i am given a task to do and i find it difficult to do that task. i am extremely frustrated and angry and i feel like yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs and then passing out for all eternity. You should do a study of sleep deprivation in the Army. I think you tests would be more accurate than using civilians. the army is said in the army regulation books that we are suppose to get 4 non-consecutive hours of sleep a day. that is bs. you should tell the army that our soldiers need more sleep time. everyday i am angry at not getting enough sleep. i'll stp typing now ... Sean, 26 February 2006


just from my own experience I can tell you that I have not slept more than 2 hours in over a week now...due to stress and a terrible the past I have often used it as a means to acheive a certain level of consciousness for spiritual reasons. But this week has begun to feel like torture. Today I have distressing pinched nerves in my neck, and excruciating pain all along my spine. I cannot get into a position that doesn't hurt. I cannot lift anything or move freely. It is beginning to effect my speech...a few days ago I noticed an increase in irratability but was able to get a handle on it today...however there are some benefits I would like to share: my subconsious is definitely much more accessible. I have noticed a heightened feeling that I am channelling other people's thoughts in chat rooms, and can tell what they are thinking before they say it in person. A huge amount of insight has been dumped on me that I hope I do not forget. Last night, while laying in the dark for about 6 straight hours just contemplating....I had revelations about the rune & corresponding Norse mythology that I had picked out randomly the hour before during a bath. It was incredibly complex and simple at the same time for me to get a firm grasp on its' archetypical meaning, how it applies to me, my particular situation; as well as to ancient man and also other mythologies (i.e., Christian). I really enjoyed this insight as a lot of new knowledge came to me that had escaped me previously. So it has its advantages. Now that I have had that experience, I went to purchase a better mattress and some Nyquil so that I may sleep at least 6-7 hrs. sometime today or tonight, whenever the conditions in my household permit. At this point my subconscious is telling me that there will be health risks if I don't. I have learned to listen to it.

Thanks for letting me share that ... Lou Anne Cavin, 27 February 2006


This was pretty informing thank you. I am doing an open ended investigation in biology on sleep deprivation. Im going to be the experimentation though. Just wondering where I should set my limits for my lack of sleep, I\'ve made sure I have no exams when I do it =P. And I was wondering if this like, was a problem because of the hormones and the insufficient time to like recharge them. So, what hormones they are and what they do. Im gonna go research that now hehe. Thanks. Bye ... Amy, 1 March 2006


Everyone says you can't make up lost sleep. Is this true? ... Reader on the web, 3 March 2006


If I stay up all night and study I seem to do better on tests than when I study in incrimates. Why is that or am I just imagining it?

Secondly I have migraines. I first got them 5 years ago when I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep. I've been getting 8 hours of sleep for the past 4 years. Why haven't my migraines subsided?

Thank you ... Beth, 3 March 2006


I thought id just add some of my experiences of sleep deprivation and hope it helps this site and anyone with their research.

normally after the first 24 hours i begin to fell as would be expected 'stupid'. in the sense i tend to vier of track of whatever i was doing and easily loose focus. speech is still fine although it may take me a few secoonds more than usual to think of what im actually going to say or do. this cant often lead to me being paused and just stood there in a total blank for 10 seconds or so. after 48 hours aside from being tired logic seems to go out the window. simple tasks become hard to do without concotraing very hard for as something like putting a shoe on.often whilst doing this i can do much like i did before and just stare blankly wondering what i as doing before i carry on again. coming up to the third day which is the most ive been awake, lead me into sort of a dream world where i could doze off standing up and walking. conversations were hard to understand due to the amount of concontration needed. i was pretty much in my own world, so to speak. from the outside i looked as if i were inder sedativews or something with an open mouth and just blank thinking. very simple thoughts ran through my head and life seemed simple to me. thoughts of the weel ahead or anything like that came to mind. just the simple task i have to do in the next hour or so. towards the end of the 3 days even eating became a complicated task and required full concontration. having DESCENT conversation was near impossibe.

as for what was mentioned earlier about a 'buzz' after smoking weed and mixed with lack of sleep. i can describe it as the same as sleep deprivation, but its how you view the effect of it on yourself... you can view it as fun and just another way to be not in the right state of mind , as is the point of most drugs and alcohol.

as a matter of fact im actually going without sleep now, not quite 24 hours but long enough for me.. im going to bed!

hope this was of some help ... Dom, 7 March 2007


i have a severe sleep disorder. i have been going on maybe 8 hours sleep every 2 weeks for the last 6 months. And before that i was sleeping maybe a good 8 hours a week and this has been going on for 4 years almost. can anybody beat this. surely if i am out there and do this other people are too. i am surprised i still am even here ... Sandy, 13 March 2006


As part of a bizarre school project, myself and a group of mates are attempting a sleep deprevation experiment later on in the year(i fell upon your website as part of my researsh stage). The idea is to see who will last the longest without sleep (with a slab of beer at the end to the winner, thats to keep them motivated). i would like it very much to hear from you with an idea of what to expect and also some info of previous experiments done from the past.
Cheers ... Louis Van Pelt, 22 March 2006


well i wuz doin this science project with my friends and we found out that it does cause it can erase your memory and y r u doin this u dont even know wat your doin cause i tryed sleeping late 2 see wat happens and after a while i couldnt remember wat wuz i doin or y wuz i doin this so just remember next time u try sleepin late just remember not sleepin does effect your behavior ... Carolina, 28 March 2006


How does Al Herpin fit into all this? He reportedly suffered from total insomnia. Did his brain learn to recover, or simply move activity to another portion of the brain without sleep? Did he suffer a long but slow degradation of memory? Sorry I can't find any good mention of him on the net, or provide any more information on the net on him than this: (look at 5. Unwanted Syndromes) and

Do you know anything about this case? ... Mifune, 28 March 2006


Your article by SL on sleep deprivation really has helped me. I am a semi-retired radio broadcaster who recently began working a couple hours a day hosting early morning radio programming and doing occasional news anchor duties in order to keep my fingers in the business. I have not yet been able to develop some consistent sleep hours, so I may have 6 or 7 hours of nighttime sleep and other times get only 4 or 5 hours, followed by short afternoon naps, then usually crashing for a major late morning nap at some time during the week.

I noticed that my speech on the air is effected. Yesterday, "inexplicably," I didn\'t finish a word while doing the morning host gig...while I don't remember the word in question, it was something like "spoken" which I pronounced "spokuh," not finishing it with the "n" sound. And on the same day, while doing the news, on too-many newscasts I mispronounced at least one word in a way that just didn\'t add up. From time to time, its possible to mispronounce a word while on the air, but it seemed like there was a disconnect between the split second that I read the word on the copy in front of me and the time the word came out of my mouth. It was a totally different feeling psychologically, than a "normal" on-air mispronounciation. And then a week or two ago, when I had to make a routine "timing" decision whether I had time to do a planned story before the commercial or if I had to make a quick switch to a shorter, unplanned story (this decision had to be made while I was in the newscast reading the copy but thinking ahead to how much time I had left) felt like I was clueless as to what to do. Though this is routine, my thinking was definitely impaired.

All this is to say that Ms. L's article has really helped me understand what sleep deprivation has been doing to my brain. It seems to effect (or is the word "affect") my "thinking" more dramatically than my physicality (though I find myself working out at the gym less than my usually disciplined 5 or 6 day a week workout schedule.) Please thank Ms. L for her article for me. I really need to work much harder on getting to bed around 8 p.m. on most nights, and factoring in a better scheduling around the nights when I have obligations that take me to 11 p.m. ... Tom Moller, 1 April 2006


It is like when the section of brain that is most active for specific function gets used to the less state of optimal transfer and next section starts cache for function switching over something "bottlenecks" "lags" or slows down, this seems detrimental to length of time used to render descernable output, but may also be slowly acessing the old or first active section and new same time maybe gaining wider length or more less used in that specific routeing of functions process. I find it harder to speak simply, needing more complicated explanations to gain the feeling of "defintion or quoitent correct" nodding head in understanding. Lol the line between actual relevant transfer of understandable "coherant" information v.s. giggity giggity spam blah babble grows <--SMALLER? umm Me thinks the brain on the verge of using all portions due to extreme lengths of slack time (sleep) maybe inherantly affecting perception of reality in a more or less indifferent state i.e. self realization of irrelavance of time to entirety of all existence.Numbers obviously become more dominate rates of optimal language due to universally understood medium words letters are relayed less efficently because of the wide format of interchangeable strings user can understand easier different language regardless of font type etc if relavant numeriacal equivalent is present i.e. health=100 10=*&&*% health=110 or health=90... health could be string in any format of chacters symbols etc but cannot =present amount of self or numbers? Useless if Ω or exponet man I\'ll just stfu and goto sleep try again after those 8 hours, nay it burns I want to define but fear persecution but am hitting the send button regardless big step for me ... Reader on the web, 3 April 2006


i would like to try to stay in wal mart for a weekend. and try to not fall asleep, would this alter my mental health. or woulld it get so boring that i would eventually pass out. thank you ... Chase, 13 April 2006


When sleep deprived and using parts of the brain that are not normally used is it possible or been researched that a new telepathic sense can be awakened, for the past few years iv lost a lot of sleep and in the past year iv had 4 or 5 very detailed dreams that came true and theres no way they were coincadence. I strongly believe Im telepathic or at least have been and am hoping to find some answers here ... Lewis, 23 April 2006


After being an alcoholic and stopped 4 days ago, I have only slept all together about 1hour 30 min. My mind will just not stop working. I am so sleepy but just can not do it. I only catch a few minutes at time. It really starting to affect my health. Is there anything I can do? I have read in the Big Blue Book that Sleepless can not kill you. I am beginning to wonder...
Please advise me ... Kat, 13 May 2006


when i didnt sleep for only 3 days i went off it,i was seeing hair growing on me and my boyfriend at fast rates and i saw lights flyin around and insects on my bed, they were very vivid and intense ... Rebeckah, 14 May 2006


Hello. I have been diagnosed with Narcolepsy in 2002, and then subsequently rediagnosed in 2005 with Sleep anpnea, none of the medication that i received for both diagnosis did not work and I'm still suffering very severly with this problem. I'm currently seeing a chiropratic in which the results of an x-ray of the lower brain and neck shows that I have a sligh cure in my spine resulting in some abnormal pressure on a nerve which is responsible for blood oxgen getting to the brain which could be preventing me from getting sleep, doe anybody now of any other information that might be helpful in helping me combat this disorder I desperately need your help, concerned! ... Fred, 14 May 2006


Was looking at site to see link between Bipolar Disorder and Sleep deprivation. I am studying to be a psychiatrist. It is interesting to note that many "manic" Bipolar episodes are preceded usually by 2 or more days of no sleep at all or a period of severely deficient sleep patterns. Also note that Bipolar depression is often preceded and associated with oversleeping? Is this (Bipolar) a real mental illness, or is it often "created" and thrown at individuals showing symptoms of temporary insanity or sadness due to oversleep or undersleep respectiveley? I beleive at the least the "real deal" behind many "Bipolar Disorder" most especially mania is extended periods of sleep deficiency or no sleep at all, all of which go against the brains natural ability in mantaining stable levels of serotonin...good sleeping lifestyle practices should be the prescription in many cases rather than throwing Mood-Stabilizers, Anti-Psychotics and other Bipolar Meds at people who are! nothing more than severely sleep deprived or oversleeping ... Brian C, 19 May 2006




Hi im still young but im really looking foward to study my perfect career, so lately i havent slept good. Im experimenting a little to see if maybe i could get used to it, i agree with some points of your essay and some points i don't know them well yet but im interested on them. If this is true i would start sleeping 8hrs per day but i think is important 4 ppl 2 know this kind of stuff because everyday everyone sleeps less and less ... Swam, 10 September 2006



hey im in 8th grade and im doing a project about this. uhm okay i sleep really late like around 5 am. then wake up at 7 for school. im doing a project on this cause maybe on my way of doing it i can realize something very important that im missing! at school i just start acting lazy meaning not wanting to do my school work and getting behind my clsses. and im not usaully that kind of person i use to get all my things done in time but now everything is falling apart! so i was wondering if sleeping is affecting my daily acedemics and routines in my life? ... CeeCee, 23 September 2006



I don't have anything to comment on but I want to know whether the body temperature of a person increases if the person has slept only for 3 hours at night or even lesser. Or it depends on the time period when he/she has gone to sleep or the temperature or weather of the place. Also does the immunity of the person also reduce due to loss of REM sleep? ... Gayetri Ramachandran, 22 October 2006


I think I'm sleep deprived. I work a condensed work week 4 - 10 hour days. I've been doing this for about 2 years now. I drive 1.5 hours 3 of the 4 days to start work at 6am and end at 4:30pm. I have a three year old who co-sleeps with my wife and I. I usually try to go to bed around 9-10pm to get 6 or 7 hours of sleep before the drive. What usually happens is that my daughter tosses and turns or my wife usually ends up working until midnight, my daughter won't go to sleep easily without both of us there. By the time I get into a really good sleep it's around 12:30am - 1am, during the night my daughter repeatedly kicks off the covers in her sleep. I usually wake up several times a night to cover her back up. Then the alarm clock goes off at 4 in the morning, I shower, shave eat breakfast and then commute to work. I've been experiencing some behavioural problems such as MicroSleeping while driving, or at work, inability to concentrate, focus or staring off into space. When people talk to me I usually hear about the first three words and then drift off into la-la land as my eyes glaze over and drift away from whomever is talking to me. Last Friday at work I tried to explain what I was doing to my boss and couldn't spit it out! I ended up grunting and pointing like a caveman! This lasted about 40 seconds and he looked at me very strangely until I was finally able to spit it out in short sentences.

I think my work is suffering from lack of sleep, my wife notices that I'm listless and zombie-like when I get home. This in turn is affecting my marriage. So with both my marriage and job at stake is there any recommendations that you can suggest.

I would be entirley grateful ... Matt Strawbridge, 22 October 2006



Recently,I happened to come across a fact that getting less than 6hrs of sleep per night actually leads us to diabetes and obesity.Infact,when a person wakes up in a sleep deprived state ,there's a growing drive for high carb foods(in the morning).Moreover,production of insulin in the pancreas is also inhibited in this state.Usually I end up getting just 4-5 hrs of sleep per night and if by chance,I get to sleep some 45mins in the public bus on my way to college.Sometimes I experience slurred language,inability to focus and feeling sleepy all the time.Meanwhile,in the weekend I sleep for around 8-11 hrs and this drives me too lazy and decreased energy.And then the life goes on ... John Kane, 8 November 2006



hello im a middleschooler who todally dosnt agree w/ having to wake up sooo early. ive also read that us teenagers should get more sleep than we do so i think that they should give us more time to sleep, on school days and we should at least try to go to sleep earlier ... Jay Bruner, 14 November 2006


I have also noticed the 'buzz' effect of sleep deprivation, it was kinda pleasant, and I think it's similar to a kind of psychosis, you feel slightly removed from reality, as if having taken a mental painkiller.

Also, I have noticed when sleep-deprived, that it is easy to drift off into a kind of daze, and in these times it's easy to get into a stream-of-consciousness rant about varied unrelated subjects. I would have expected this to be a cause of increased functioning in language/creative ideas parts of the brain, because it seems like more thoughts can escape from your unconscious into the conscious, but your research suggests otherwise.

Another effect of sleep deprivation that I have felt is that when sleep deprived, the body's tollerance for alcohol, (and probably other drugs), is much lowered, so a small amount of alcohol will have more effect on you when you're very tired.

Remember this is all from personal experience and shouldn't be considered empirical/true. Everything I have mentioned is only fit for stimulating ideas ... Mombius Hibachi, 19 November 2006



I have done a great deal of sleep deprivation related training in the military, under the mistaken belief that through practice you can get good at it. Afte around 15 years of service I had a seizure, and all the blood vessels in my left eye popped amongs some other unpleasant effects like forgetting my name. The nuerologist told me there was a good chance that this was caused by a life of repeated bouts of sleep deprivation (after I was tested for a myraid of other things like low blood sugar, and epilepsy). Is there anything that I can do to lessen the effects of sleep deprivation? My job kind of requires that I stay up for long hours in order to survive, and be able to carry out my duties ... Nordeen, 9 December 2006


Its really nice to read people's experiences in life.

please keep on adding guyz....its really interesting to read about what happened to your life style when you got deprived of sleep ... Mr. Yelmar, 27 December 2006


your list for SYMPTOMS of sleep loss leads one to believe you'll just feel "sleepy".

Doctors KNOW about the PSYCHOSIS you can get from it, so you should INCLUDE this on your site.

These symptoms include:

-hallucinations (visual, tactile, smell, taste)
-hearing "voices", most of which or MENTAL VOICES
-total loss of judgement
-false memories
-believing things that aren't true
-following "commands" (when the mental voices tell you to do something)
-"movies" playing in your head where "mental voices & chaaracters" appear & play a "storyline" (like a movie would), which can last for seconds, hours, days, or weeks. and you may BELIEVE it to be REALLY occurring.

please post this so people will KNOW what it is that's happening to them, & people will know WHY they shouldn't sleep deprive themselves ... Dudbubbin, 1 January 2007



For a project i stayed up for 37 hours and i never reached the point where i got hillucinations and actually i didn't really experience any really terrible side effects. I did experience the typical side effects such as headaches, slowed movements and thoughts, but after a span of time i felt normal but around hour 36 i could really feel the drag towards sleep. This article has really helped me with an essay that i have to write for this project and i will be sure to use it as a reference. Hope my input can help you in some way ... Mike Radford, 7 January 2007



I can't sleep. when to a sleep clinic was told that I had a very bad sleep D.gave me all kind of medication but notting help could you help me ... Suzanne Thibault, 14 January 2007


I seem to have woken up to the idea that the symptoms of sleep deprivation can easily be misdiagnosed or misunderstood by others, and,then theres the posibility that the sufferer may believe he or she has other unrelated problems. In my case i began to think that i was autistic to some degree, and as a result i embarked on a course to find out. To cut the story short, i came to a point where it was obvious that prelonged periods of sleep deprivation over a span of some 20-25 years have gradually turned me into a completely different person. I have no motivation to do even the things i've always enjoyed and tasks that require ones undivided attention seems to be too much to handle. I made a lot of mistakes typing this dialogue and had to continually make amends to the text, which to me proof is that disorientation is a key symptom. On a daily basis i wander about the work place not able to do whatever job i've been given, even to the point where i have packed up for the day and gone home. Other days are different to the extent that i suffer a kind of panic attack but afterwards i seem to be fine for a while, but definitely a lot more sluggish. I may be suffering from depression too but i've not looked into that side of the matter as yet.

I was tired when i typed this and it was a chore. I hope its of some help, better still will it result in something that will help me! ... H. Rojewski, 22 January 2007



I start hallucinating after about 3 days of no sleep. I see people everywhere that ive never seen before. They just appear out of the walls and ceilings. All i have to do is stare at a solid object for a few seconds. Sure enough people will start coming through and they usually float up towards the ceiling. Also dark rooms are just full of people floating around and walking through. Once i get some sleep i dont see these things at all. The longer i stay up the more clear and intense these experiences become. I used to take large amounts of Dextromethorphan and would experience these types of things. But i havent touched Dxm in years. Could this be some form of permanent brain damage? ... Jay Grigsby, 4 February 2007



I am a homicide investigator for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. We work a 21 day cycle. 3 days off, five days on during which we are on call. one of those days we work a shift of desk duty answering telephones from either 0500-1300, 1300-2100 or 2100-0500. This is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year including holidays. During the on call we get called out at all hours throughout the county to investigate murder. We commonly leave late at night, go home late the next day. we get 3 days off then we begin a 10 day stretch. Starting on a friday we are on call until monday at 0600 hours during that time we work one shift of desk duty. What effect does this have on a persons health? ... Boyd Zumwalt, 16 February 2007


Re: "i know for a fact that you can go for more then 11 days with out sleep because i went 4 weeks playing computer games on a bet and won but i would never try it again the last 2 weeks it was hard to tell real from not and the stress has caused me some memory loss" -- Reader on the web, 11/06/2005

SS or it never happened.

In the state of sitting on your backside for 4 straight weeks, without any sleep, and more than likely consuming high-energy, caffine full liquids and or foods, you would have died of a heart attack ... Matt Bryant, 20 March 2007






I am doing research for a science experiment for my science class and I need to see what will happen to people when they don't sleep for 48 hours. Do you have any tips or information I could use? ... Talyn, 23 March 2007



Hi. I'm a student and i don't think i'm getting enough sleep. I normally go to sleep from 11 - 12, and wake up 6 30, will this effect my studies? What effect will it have on me? ... Frank, 5 June 2007



I really hope there is someone out there who can help me with this problem.Some three years ago I was struck down with a nasty dose of Chronic Bronchitis, during that period of illness there was a period of thirteen days when I hardly got a wink of sleep due to continually coughing.I felt dissorientated couldn't think straight and was basically quite poorly. Also in that period I did something Quite uncharateristic of me, I sent an email to a work coleague stating that my presant wife shouted at me because of my incesant coughing and that she would get annoyed if I had not cooked her meal by the time she arrived home from work. I remember saying more or less the same thing to my mother some fifteen years ago when I was married to and alcoholic wife. My presant wife read the email which caused me even more traumer and her daughter will not let the subject drop. Could there be a connection here because I cannot explain why I did such a thing, I love my wife dearly and wouldn't do anything knowingly to hurt her. at the time of the illness I was 63 yrs of age ... John Evans, 16 September 2007



I guess i don't get as much sleep as i should be getting, but last night it got creepy. story is, i have a mouse. i used to have two, but one ran away, so i got a new one, because the petsmart people say they are social, but unfortunately, the old one ate the new one. well, last night, i looked down at the cage and there were two mice. i starred blankly for some period of time. then i ran to my cell, and called people to see if anyone knew anyrhing about the extra mouse, and non one did. i went back later, and it wasn't there any more. i've looked ever since then and haven't seen it. what?? did i really see osmething that wasn't there? ... Noel Knight, 25 September 2007



i had noticed u said the longest a human has stayed awake was eleven days.ive went without sleep for 16 days last summer without the use of drugs.during that time i aquired my GED considering i dropped out in the seventh grade i would say i was comprehending and retaining information pretty well but anyhow i just wanted to ask how long i could go without sleep safe from dying ... Zachary, 30 September 2007



i am a senior in high school and i have to get up between six and six thirty to be to school on time by seven thirty. i usually set my alarm clock to go off at six then again at six fifteen. sometimes my dad comes in and wakes me before my alarm and on these days i always feel more tired than i would had i woken uop to my alarm even if its just a few minutes before my alarm. is this normal? why does losing just a few minutes of sleep make me feel exhausted throughout the day? ... Britni, 1 October 2007



hi... I was wondering about sleep deprivation verses major depression. I've been diagnosed with major depression but I have also had a lot of sleep deprivation. i go back and forth between being deprived of sleep and sleeping for really long periods of time. could my sleep deprivation be the reason for my depression? and if so, why wouldn't my psychologist and psychiatrist have caught that because I've described my sleep patterns to them both. are there other factors in diagnosing major depression that I'm missing? from what i can tell, sleep deprivation has a lot to do with behavior malfunction, speech problems, etc., which are symtoms of depression. anyway, I would really like your advice if possible. thank you for the article - it was fascinating ... Anna, 1 October 2007



I'm 14 and i just had a hallicination the other night but i can't recall what it was, but previous hallicinations i remmember. One hallucination was I was the size of an ant in a forrest at night but i also was a hungry chameleon and was trying to eat myself, no joke. I recall that got out of bed cause i felt odd, so i just went to the bathroom, and while i was on the toilet i felt scared, i got up exited the bathroom and i found myself freaking out, my sister was trying to calm me down. Her point of veiw was she came out to go to the bathroom and she saw me standing there looking at the ground, and she said my name and i started to freak out and said there was a worm on my head, but i thought she asked me if there was a worm on my head and i just went with it, so i start saying "There is a worm on my head get it off!" which i don't remmember, also another was a little more calm but still as stressful, it was black every where and i was as if standing on glass, there were old ruin looking columns every where and i had to choose the one REAL column or the whole universe would cease to exist. I also have ones with strange feelings where my mind thinks in a totally different way that i can't explain, One there was bright light all around me and two pitch black wholes on either side of me, in each whole there was a small Imp, and both kept on coming up at the same time trying to pull me in their hole and split me apart, another was the calmest one, There was a frame arch and i was standing in it, there was a light bulb at the top pointing down, (like on the inside) and i was floating through space and breathing. When i hallucinate my mind thinks TOTALLY different, and anything can make me feel like i'm about to die, another was (i know "Don't watch so much TV." wasn't the case though) it was the same setting as the imp dream was, but i was awake, each Dragon Ball Z villain had a hole 3 villains were there, but they were standing above their hole, and i had to go Super Saiyan or they would kill me but there was a chance i would die if i went Super Saiyan, i was 9 at the time, also random things will remind me of my dreams or hallucinations, such as when i was writing this i was going to write "fourteen" instead of 14 but i thought i had a typo and didn't know how to spell fourteen even though it was correct and i got the Sleep Deprivation "feeling" almost remmembering the hallucination i had last night (but i couldn't). So if anyone can explain my type of Sleep Deprivation or anyone that has similar problems or hallucinations or anyone that knows and has experiance the type of "Feeling" or different type of thinking, please contact me ... Devin Farrell, 22 October 2007



Fantastic site! I really enjoyed the article "The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior." I'm looking for information on types of diagnostic tests for chronic insomnia and studies that gives ratios on degree and types of impairment for amount of sleep loss. For example: For every 5 hours of sleep lost, there is a 10% decline in ability to focus, concentrate, etc ... Pamela Jackson, 25 October 2007



Hi my name is femi, i am 15 years old and i live in essex, U.K. Althuogh i haven't carried out any research on this issue, but what i think is that the human brain is designed in away that everything you do is to a set out programme in your head, so when you sleep your brain recollects the days events and thats why you have things known as dreams. Then theres an unconsious state during the sleep were your brain works in credibly hard to programme the next day. Thats why you feel very tired and heavy even when you haven't done anything hard, this is very evident i.e those who sleep more do anything better than those who do not ... Femi, 30 October 2007


Always Sick Chick's picture

Sleep deprivation causes ADD, ADHD & Depression

I'm working on getting more sleep to reduce my dysthymia symptoms of depression, anxiety and attention deficit. So far, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is working wonders, as is getting up once I'm awake instead of going back to sleep just because I don't have to be anywhere.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I'm afraid that even though

I'm afraid that even though this is all scientific and helpful to scientists, I was hoping for sleep deprivation effects on normal functions understandable by the average person. Could you add something that relates to its effects on...Reflexes?

Marie Napoleone's picture

I only sleep between 3 & 5 hours

I have been going on between 3 & 5 hours sleep for more then a year now. I have even taken Ambien 10 mg and other sleeping pills and it does not help me...When I took Ambien 12.5 I remember getting up to go to the bathroom and the next thing I know I was in the bathtub......I must a fallen in the tub, BUT I don't remember how it happened. I remember trying go get up and out of the tub, but couldn't think of how.........So, I called my husband, and when he came in and I said I can't get out, he said just move you feet to inside the tub, and stand up. After that I went back to taken the Ambien 10....but I stopped taken it now, as I didn't get any more sleep with it. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
PS I am a senior citizen and my daughter said that maybe that is all the sleep that I need. I once in a while can take a nap....and when I do, it is between 1/2 hr to one hour that is all

Marie Napoleone's picture

No sleep

Well it is now 3AM and I haven't been to sleep yet.......I am tired, but, when I get into bed, as much as I try to go to sleep, I can't. So, it looks like I will be up all night tonight

Any suggestions...... PLEASE

Serendip Visitor's picture


You know what, this sometimes happens to me. And homestly it's very painful staying up all night. But i think that you might have so many stress.....? if you work, at the end of the day.Take a walk, take a shower and relax.... this might help.

Serendip Visitor carol's picture

no sleep

Ok guys and dolls I know what sleep deprivation is really like nd it sucks!! After 12 years and yes eventually abuse - only in the quest for a good nights sleep I used more and more Benzos Ambiens etc. Eventually I checked into a rehad all brave thinking I could Cold turkey myself off these meds. Well after 17days and yes you sceptics I truely went 17 days and 17 nights with zero sleep. The withdrawals were bad enough and the only medication I received was anti epileptics. I eventually was transferred to a psychiatric hospital and after 3 weeks of trial and error of various medications by a team of very qualified psychiatrists. I am back home but guess what??? They put me back on the Benzos and Ambian and having a very high tolerance after only 2 weeks home I am back to sleeping 2 - 3 hours a night.

Michelle40's picture

Sleep Disorder


Last year around this time I was "hypervigilant" I was under a tremendous amount of stress that I have ever been in my life... I couldn't sleep my mind was racing, my body is hurting, and my emotions were all over the place. I couldn't sleep so I started tracking the hours I was awake and would monitor the time I slept... 16 days passed and I only slept a total of 4 hours I would make sure I rested going into meditation then I would start to dose off for seconds then the cycle would start all over again. I kept walking to the library to help get the energy in my mind focused and I just kept writing because I was too vulnerable to be around people I was "lashing out" if not directly at people then when I was writing. Plus I quit smoking for 20 days. Needless to say the authorities came out and took me to the hospital and Doctors put me in the Psych ward, the RN gave me 3 shots and I still wouldn't drop, and I just kept going and going until I finally "crashed".

Today I found a paper from around that time some words are written in Spanish while other words are in Portugese I was studying Linguistics at the time; so today I translated the words... I still don't sleep well probably 2-4 hours a night, but as long as I get some sleep I tell myself I'm alright. I should start tracking my time again...

The information I found on this site gave me a better understanding of what happens to our brains and how it effects our bodies.

Lebohang Phakathi's picture

sleep deprivation

what happens if a person doesn't want to sleep even when they have started to hallucinate?

Serendip Visitor's picture

i hate my lire and i dont

i hate my lire and i dont have a email i will commet sucide by not sleeping help me oh wait none of you will read/care because i dont have a email i can clap

Sam P's picture

In my younger days, 19 to 38

In my younger days, 19 to 38 , used to do well with 4 to 5hrs sleep and still perform fantastically in studies, work n fun stuff with friends.
Going pass 38 years, the ability to cope with less sleep, daily < 6 hrs is worsening with memory loss and blurred eyesight and onset of long sightness. Even with weekend catch up sleep of > 8-10 hrs does not help much in recovery, it takes 2-3 days of good rest to get everything back to normal for a long week with 5hr/day. There is increased irritability associated with some lack of control over choice of words if the 5hr ritual continues for consecutive 5 days and recently my body will just give up in the middle of the evening at 9pm n I pass out watching tv.. waking up in the late nite not sleepy..

I realised the quality mattress helps n heavy curtains n cool temperatures help but lastly though I hate to waste time sleeping, have no choice but to try to get the 6-8 hrs daily by force... maybe get rid of the TV.. hope to get back my health once I can get the 6-8 hrs.
The best way to get quality sleep is actual cycling or sleeping or some intense exercise n while my body fill up with goodrelaxing chemicals.. I sleep peaceful at a stretch of 4-5 hrs n wake up feeling sooooo.... beautiful.

Serendip Visitor's picture

needs good rest

I usually get 6-8 hours of sleep, but lately when I sleep...even if its a good full night, when I wake up it feels like I have only slept for an hour. I have struggled with exhaustion since highschool, but I have never had an issue like this. I am so tired during my day and its almost impossible for me to wake up in the mornings. Has anyone ever had an issue like this and if so can you tell me what my problem is?

Serendip Visitor's picture

Sorry but most UK doctors are

Sorry but most UK doctors are useless when it comes to this topic. It seems like insomnia is not treated as a serious disability because thats what it is. Most aren't interested at finding the cause and dont even suggest sleep studies etc. You have only two options with doctors. The ones that prescribe you useless anthistimines that dont work and make you feel like crap or the ones who pump you full of chemicals that still dont work and make you feel like crap. Insomnia is one of the most disabling and affecting experiences you can have. Its about time people from healthcare to employers started taking it more seriously.

Livejasmin's picture

Great stuff

I can tell you one thing about the hours that you sleep. I have 5 kids and when I let them stay up late they sleep late so they get their normal hours of sleep, but each of them is horribly cranky the next day EVERY time because they are obviously tired even though they will never admit it. It doesn't make sense, but that's how it works.

Mae Anne's picture

sleep deprivation

hello, i'm a third year college student, a social work student actually. were having our research right now and we were wondering if someone can help us find related studies about sleep deprivation. just send it to my email. thank you..
im hoping you can send it to me as soon as possible..

Serendip Visitor help's picture

No sleep

I have major sleep problems and nothing will fix it im extremely violent because of my sleep issues because of mental hallucinations due to lack of sleep i have once gone 1 whole month with less then 20 hours of sleep i can eaisly not sleep for a week if i dont take my medication and when i do sleep its pointless i n ever feel rested so i get angry and dont want to sleep please help

jordheim's picture

No Sleep - what exactly are

No Sleep - what exactly are you hoping to get help with?

Brandon Steinke's picture

My first sleep deprivation experiment

This last week I tried my first sleep deprivation experiment with a friend of mine. Today is Monday and I started the experiment last Tuesday. The first couple days without sleep didn't really give me any side effects. The fourth day I started noticing an effect on my speech. I would studder or slur words randomly throughout the day and I couldn't seem to come up with synonyms to words that were simple and think of a word to replace it that sounded more intelligent. I also experienced sudden but not severe mood swings and I could get depressed very easily and I got really depressed towards the end of the fourth day and balled my eyes out for multiple reasons that didn't normally upset me. The fifth day I started out with the same side effects as the fourth day and at about 7 o'clock I started hallucinating, not very much at first, and then at about midnight I was having frequent hallucinations. The hallucinations came more easily when my vision was slightly impaired, like when i went outside at about three in the morning, or if I looked through a window with water droplets all over it I would hallucinate but when I would move the window and look in the same direction it would immediately stop. I finally had to quite my experiment because at about four thirty to five in the morning last night my hallucinations were both with my vision and with my hearing. I could hear people talking either to me or having random conversations with themselves. I think i started to go into a moment of temporary insanity shortly after the hallucinations that I could hear began and my friend and my girlfriend made me end the experiment. I thought I would share what I experienced for anyone who was curious of what happens to a person undergoing sleep deprivation.

Martin Reed's picture

Don't Ignore Sleep Deprivation

Ms Ledoux has done a great job of illustrating just how serious sleep deprivation can be, and how it can have huge health implication. It's worth mentioning that individuals suffering from sleep deprivation shouldn't ignore their condition. Sleep deprivation needs to be taken seriously and those suffering from a lack of sleep need to seek professional advice.

Support groups can also be helpful, such as the members-only forums at

jackie0117's picture

I have started back to school

I have started back to school and I have 2 jobs and still go full time for school...everyone thinks that it is a bad idea that i decided to take on this task because that means working over nights and then going to school sleeping after school and going to work and then the weekends consist of going to my other job. I have started to take vitamins and I think that they are helping but then again not to sure. I have been emotional on some days that I have had little sleep, which is ever night, and I cry over nothing and I fall asleep in classes. Clearly the right thing to do iss not work so much but I need money to pay for school and medical bills...and at my age i shouldn't have this to worry bout, but I wanna be happy and full of energy with out having to use energy drinks to get through the day

Edgar 's picture

Sleeping pill

Try amrix guys it like relaxes ur muscles real good and u sleep well

Marie Napoleone's picture


Is that an over the counter sleeping pill?

superlactose's picture

how r people w/ sleep

how r people w/ sleep deprivation supposed to read this when its soo long....and i cant focus..plez summarize..

peace and love

Sterling Wa's picture


Excellent! Very interesting and informative. (ˆ≈ˆ) however...I must say I noticed a number of typos...

Aisling Barr's picture


I have read your article and find it extremely interesting. I have had been diagnosed with insomnia. I have had it for 5 years. It has nothing to do with my breathing or anything so simple such as diet, exercise or alcohol. I am 27, quite fit, and i work full time. I also have 3 children. I got insomnia after i had my daughter and have never been able to fall asleep since. Horrifying, i know. Even when i was pregnant with my son, I had to take sleeping tablets the whole way through the pregnancy, as i would literally be awake for three days, then pass out for 15minutes but still not go into a deep sleep. I completely agree with loss of memory, I am currently reading up on chemistry and science that i got A's in at school, just to refresh my memory and because even when my son asks me the simplest questions, i can't remember the answer, even though, i know i know it, i just simply cannot explain. I now take murelax, 20mg at night and 40mg of temaze. But it seems my problem is worsening, taking these tablets, i can't remember hardly anything and I feel like i'm getting alziemhers. I constantly forget what i'm supposed to be at the shops for, what i need to get done, and i'm constantly tired.
I have done so much research on the subject, but to no avail, I wonder, is there a cure? and What harm are the tablets we are getting prescribed doing to our brains?
I wish everyone a nice rest. oh my trick to relax, is to try and remember good dreams i used to have and make them into a story. Takes my mind off sleeping, so i get a rest. Its quite fun, and gets you away from the anxiety or rolling around in the bed annoyed at yourself as you can't sleep, lol.

Maryam Jafari's picture


why some poeple have low time in sleep(3-4 hours) without any problems in learning and remembering data from their brains?

Jin's picture

sleep study

It seems that all kinds of people are reporting sleep issues in these responses, but no one has mentioned sleep studies. A sleep study can find why you are not sleeping well and may add years to your life if you can be treated. Most common sleep problems can be treated.

reader jones's picture

this article

this article is very misleading and based on really shoddy information. studies have shown that people need about 5.5 hours for proper brain function. and millions of people run for 3 days straight. the statement that it can't be done is laughable and indicative of how poor this article is.

angie's picture

my brain heavy

i cant sleep at nigths i work 24/7 from 8 a.m to 8p.m feel like my brain is not mine cause i cant fuction anymore i go to work and my client or my boss is talking butam not thier but i am feels like i have to brains one is not letting me fuction feel dizzy lite headed and feel like am going to faint i can barely walk and is affecting my job cant consentrate my hole body feels like am running on low and its scaring me please help feel like am loosing my mind or i have something in my brain thats making me feel this way help me please? angie

Jin's picture

Get a sleep study save or extend your life.

If you are not getting enough sleep a sleep study is the only way to go. It can pinpoint exactly what sleep cycles may be most effected and there is a real good chance that they can treat the cause these days. This may save your life or make it much longer and happier.

A friend of mine found out that they were having bouts of asma when they getting into rem sleep,something like that is treatable and changes your life. Good luck

sierra's picture


I have been getting 2-5 hours of sleep each day for the last 14 months. These are usually only one hour at a time. I am the best on my team at work, and I also manage to keep my high average in college. I am a member of the national honor society and I also volunteer. If what you say is true, how is this possible? Would I be a genius if I could sleep eight hours a day? I'm just a little confused.!!

igor 's picture

help me

hey im here first time and i got a problem i get angry fast, like every time i would try to spend time with my wife we get in to a fight and it gets wors with a time i got a feling will divors one day. and im diprest all tha time and cant sleep . is there a way out? i love my wife and i dont wunt to loose my family we got 11 month son and im onle 23

Lady Susan's picture

I think sleep deprivation is

I think sleep deprivation is a big problem for the people now. The hard work and stress from life makes us tired everyday.

Robert's picture


I think this is a good place to come for help, as doctors don't believe me... but every time I sleep I defecate in my bed and my wife is getting sick of it. I guess I totally lose control of my bowels and it all just comes out... I wake up in a mess or to my wife complaining because of the smell. She currently sleeps in a different room because I we always wake up to horrific odors. My feces are also abnormally smelly. It also has ruined our sex life because every time we have sex I also lose control and defecate. She is sick of it and we no longer have sex or sleep in the same bed. I can't sleep now because I want to show her that I can spend a night without defecating... but whenever I fall asleep it just happens. Why is this??

Serendip Visitor's picture

Day Tripper....

Well i geuss i fit right inhe past I have been a drug abuser in the past, completed treatment and now living a better life. recently was going through a hard time with stress levels high and other factors. I just found myself going to sleep later and later i am now on day 5 of a "very low hr per night" week.... as in day 1:2hr day 2: 30min day 3:3-4hr day:4 1 hr now day:5 and i have to be up for work in 3.5hrs....if that happens(falling asleep) idk. day 3 is where i really just started to feel like i was tripping...(more of an acid trip, with hallucinations..... continuing(right now the screen is I can tell you caffeine has kept me going as well as fooling myself i was actually on an acid trip and trying to enjoy it like i always have. keep tellin myself to get to sleep..... but just doesnt happen... find myself smoking allot more and my immune system is whacked. i ended up getting folliculitis so bad i had to shave my head and now am on antibiotics. i also just put myself on mega multivitamin which helped allot! i find if you keep eating and feuling your body it helps allot.... and the ocassional energy shots... i am looking forward to finishing work tomorrow grabbin a twelve pack and chillen out not worrying about anything but chillen.... I can say to myslef"now I know" just like a drug... it has been ok but not something i would look forward to dealing with forever.... well.... hope this was entertaining... i really dont know if it made sense and i have no intentions of reading it back to myself and or editing....... but for those who are curious listen to these people with insomnia and try to figure out why they call people insane.... in the membrain "insain in the brain" cuz you will feel that way once you sit with yourself and try to focus on something and when you cant focus no matter how hard you try, you will enter into the insane category because you will try again.. and it wont happen. Get some sleep you have to lock yourself in a room no light/phone /tv/computer or people or responsbilities... and get rest i kno i will be DRINK BEER! and plenty of it i gaurentee noone could stay up drinking one after another for more than 18hrs w/ no drugs involved... peace out -Jr

hello?'s picture

sleep dep

Hey, I guess I should introduce myself before saying anything. I have gone through 110 hours without sleep but this was facilitated through amphetamine use. I have also dropped acid before, so I have at least some experience with what you are talking about. First off, do not drink beer to get to sleep. It may seem like it works and as far aesthetics go, it does, but alcohol interferes with vital REM sleep (which you've gotten a bit of at least because your body moves straight into REM after enough sleep deprivation). Also don't take nyquill for the same reason. You will be falling asleep because of the alcohol in it, and if you take too much out of frustration, you may have some of the trippy effects of the Dextromethorphan (DXM) in the cough syrup. As somebody who has tripped before, I'm sure you know about set and setting. Well I'm guessing you can appreciate the fact that your "set" is suboptimal at best,and combining this with a dissociative could very well lead to an unpleasant trip, and one of the effects of DXM is that it blocks SERT (serotonin transporter) which could be harmful with your already compromised serotonin levels. I'm not sure how vivid your hallucinations are (I've never had full out hallucinations from sleep deprivation) but it sounds like at this point you should consider seeing a doctor because stress and sleep deprivation create a vicious cycle. I'm not too well versed in the use of legal sedatives, especially over long periods but if its a short-term problem they may give you a benzodiazepine or barbituate (these carry risks of physical addiction though, so if you've had problems with addiction, talk your options over with your doctor), and if its long-term, I've heard of nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics like Zolpidem (Ambien). I think I get what you're trying to say in essence though which is that, to be frank, this isn't a pleasant experience. Going on 5 days with no sleep even with constant stimulants shows in your physical appearance (paler, huge bags under your eyes, a sort of lost look), your sense of psychological well being ( when you're on acid and walls are breathing and you're seeing jet trails and stuff its cool, but with sleep deprivation all you can think in your comprimised state is, "why does my pencil look like its moving on the ground...?". You also become incapable of creating and organizing complex thoughts, which shows whenever you try to interact with the people around you). Anyways, in closing, consult a medical professional because the eventual results like psychosis sound unpleasant

Terri's picture

Using sleep deprication against children

I have a serious question as well as a serious concern. My 24 year old daughter is taking care of my other two younger children, one is going to be 14 next month (she has severe ADHD, Depression and problems sleeping), my other child is 10 Years old.
Since my oldest daughter has been caring (if you could call it that) the children show signs of sleep deprivation, it is now becoming a case where it has become so severe that my daughter (with the ADHD)is having memory problems as well as having new memories implanted in the original place for the past 6 months. Where can I go to get possitive proof of what your paper states which book did you get the information in regards to memory and inventing new memories out of. I need to know in order to help my children get help ASAP.
Thank You,

Serendip Visitor's picture

hi senor gud eve

let u all do meditation every day twice once at mng 6am and eve 5:30itself ur daughter will be out of sleep depravation soon n welcum urs

Terri's picture

using sleep deprivation against children

Could a psychologist/psychiatrist please give me some insight in my children and their sleep deprivation in regards to memory and the repacement of implanting new memories which are false, did I forget to mention the 24 year old has a degree in psychology and is on the verge of being a sociopath.'The children are in need as well as the adult of immediate help. before too much damage has been done.

hello?'s picture


First thing first, if you are worried about your twenty-four year old daughter taking care of your children you must find some suitable alternative. As far as your fourteen year old goes, what medications is she on? Adderall and the other medications they use to treat ADD are all strong (schedule 2) stimulants. They are safe, particularly on ADD children who react to stimulants differently than the general population in some respects, but some extremely common side-effects still include insomnia (to give an example, I've gone 110 hours without sleep on an adderall and vyvanse (a prodrug that turns into pure dextroamphetamines)and could've easily gone longer if I hadn't run out) and loss of appetite (I didn't eat until i finally woke up after a couple hours rest on the fifth day). As far as depression goes, children with ADD are more susceptible to the chemical imbalances related to depression, so if you haven't already considered psychotherapy and medications, they usually start with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (think prozac)or "possibly" a tricyclic although those are used less commonoly. If your first anti-depressant doesn't work, don't worry because merely switching the medication until you get noticible effects works well(depression is a complex condition that is the result of different problems in different people) If no SSRI's (or anything in that general "family" so to say, and by that I mean any reuptake inhibitor associated with seratonine or any newer drugs your doctor considers to be safe (unfortunately many newer drugs like NDDI's require the taker to be over 18) or the tricyclics (if your doctor tries those) work, then you start to run into problems if your daughter is taking medication for ADD. I don't really know anything about ridalin but that isn't used as commonly anymore so sorry if that is what your daughter is on. If she is on Adderall or a pure dextroamphetamine or its prodrug (a prodrug is a medication administered in a less active form which goes through bioactivation when metabolised (basically there is another group of elements on the base which is removed when your body processes the pill)(they do this so it has less recreational potential since it can't be snorted or taken in via IV)) then you're in luck because I know about it =). Basically, Adderall (I'm just going to use that as a byword for any amphetamine from now on) works by competing with MAO's (mostly MAO-B in this case I believe but also MAO-A) to hold on to dopamine and norepinepherine in the synapses and preventing the reuptake (return to the neurons to be reused)of those neurotransmitters. Furthermore, at the right doses Adderall causes the release of Dopamine and Norepinepherine which results in a sense of euphoria, invincibility, etc. Unfortunately, other classes of antidepressants that would be considered after the aforementioned ones would "POTENTIALLY" be MAOI's (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor), and inhibit the uptake of dopamine and norepinepherine which could create dangerous concentrations of those neurotransmitters in conjunction with Adderall (not to mention that doctors hate prescribing MAOI's in the first place because they react poorly with pretty much everything :P). This still leaves SSRE's (selective serotonin reuptake enhancers) but this is not widely used I believe, is more commonly used in treating major depressive episodes, and I don't know about long-term use. Despite this, SSRE's have relatively few sid-effects, only release modest amounts of dopamine, lead to mood elevations and a positive stimulant effect (unlike the mood dulling effects of SSRI's), and are even being studied for treatment of ADD. As far as memories being "inserted" because of sleep deprivation, I've never heard of that. Sleep Deprivation can cause confusion and even a statte of psychosis if maintained long enough though. I don't want to drug your daughter up too much but I would talk to a doctor about possible sleep medications that are safe with ADD related stimulants and anti-depressants. I doubt you can get her any sleep medications though because that would be straight up drug antagonism. To add to the problem, I know next to nothing about sleep medications, but I "think" the safest, powerful prescription sleep medication would be a nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic like ambien. Anyways, I hope this helped, but seriously... get your kids away from you 24 year old daughter if you have worries about her and see a doctor for your daughter. In closing I AM NOT A DOCTOR, I just hope my advice can help guide you

jordheim's picture


This article was written years ago and I don't know that anyone from the site monitors the comments.

Go to the library and check out a book on sleep deprivation if you need proof, but first do your job as a parent and get your kids out of that situation. You don't need proof positive to do that.

tiffany's picture

sleep deprivation and brain damage

Hi, when I took psychology classes in the past I saw a documentary about the effects of sleep deprivation. Now people here are saying they haven't slept in several days and even weeks. In the movie, the man deprived himself of sleep for about 8 days and he became permanently brain damaged. Can someone explain who is correct? The documentary or the responses here?

Andrew Liquori's picture

Research Project

hello i am a student currently working on a research paper about the effects of acupressure on sleep deprication, i read your article The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior, and i would like to know if you could help me by answering a few questions or me feedback or guidance about your article or the expirament i must design

Could you please contact me at the email provided for further questions i might have. Thank You

Cathi's picture


My nephew has not truly slept for over 10 days he is talking crazy he drew all over his body he has wrote all over my sisters wood tables he says he is a shawmen and he has been talking out of this world for the last 5 days we called the hospital (he had an evaluation and they are the ones to says he was sleep deprived but would not keep him because he is an adult) to see if we could have him commited for 3 days and have him medicated so he can get sleep they would not help my sister they say he is an adult so there is nothing they can do unless he wants help he is out of his head right now how could he ask for help his speech is not slurred just crazy we put some in his hot cocoa last night he got a couple hours sleep but woke up still talking the same what else can we do to help him.

concerned person's picture


if you havent already consulted with your doctor take him there and tell him your story and that he has brain damage because even if he was to sleep regularly he would still have brain damage i dont get enough sleep here and there and it messes with my head. so you need to talk to your doctor and if he wont help take him to the E.R or have him smoke. it really works and it will help him sleep. thats only if your really desperate. just a suggestion. email me.

super volcano 2012's picture

super volcano

if i where u i will buy a airplane r a helicopter that can fly 2 days with out running out off fuel,cause the day of the eruption that on 2012,may 16 at 6:30pm the night maire if going to start ,so i will erer jump off a building or watch how the volcano erupution and wait till the metor falls on u and kills u ,sooo ok yeah get pleanty of sleep or u will died on 2012 ,may 16,6:30pm so be prepared for what going to happen that day people

Serendip Visitor's picture

yeah me to

I have similar problem + I keep waking up at the same time each and every day... :(

wite rose's picture

oh would someone hit me in the head with a shovel so i can sleep

Im 23 years, female. I work 3rd shift from 11pm to 7am, my daughter has to be woke up by 820 am to go to school at 9, I go to sleep at 915 and have to be awake by 11 pr 1130 to pick my daughter up, from there I must maintain my home and daughter until my husband gets home at 730pm I make dinner and do my college coursework and then sometimes will sleep for an hour before going back to work by 1030, sometimes I wont go back to sleep at all, because it seems to be a difficult task. I am also in the Army guard and when we drill it is anywhere from 2 to 3 days, unless it is our two week annual training, and everything gets turned around and I have to try and sleep at night to wake up ever early. I have experienced many of what others are talking about on here, shortness of breath, unable to focus or hold long term memories. I also feel pressure under my eye and sometimes they burn and sometimes my vision is very messed up and I can not see clearly, I do hallucinate but it is mainly smaller things, seeing lights flicker when they actually don't or seeing a small animal that isn't really there. The problem is this is how my life has to be right now, we can't afford child care so we have to work this way and I can't leave my daughter alone and unattended to I must stay awake with her. It says that even relaxing heals your my question is, lay on the couch while my daughter watches tv, not falling asleep or do I have to actually sleep?

/7986548's picture

Not sleeping doesn't kill

Not sleeping doesn't kill you. It just makes you tired.
That's what coffee was invented for, weaklings.

Serendip Visitor Kathy Hardison's picture


I work nights,go to school,maintain single parent household. I've noticed that sometimes I get so tired that it seems like I'm underwater. Sometimes, I get giggly, I laugh at everything. Sometimes, I fall asleep in the middle of talking to someone, middle of a sentence. I've drove home from work, and found myself in the neighbor's driveway, and don't know how I got there, I don't remember the drive at all. Coffee is good, but the only real cure is getting some sleep.

jordheim's picture


Wow, impressive. Have you spent years studying all aspects of sleep deprivation or are you naturally omnipotent? Or ignorant ...... the two seem to be closely related.