Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Brain and Behavior

SerendipUpdate's picture

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


Jordheim's picture

She would have serious mental

She would have serious mental and emotional issues at 9 hours a week. Isn't 6 hours of running a day a bit excessive? Do people do that? Or is that a major part of the story?

Serendip Visitor's picture

I'm lucky to sleep 9 hours a

I'm lucky to sleep 9 hours a week. That could be my story. The only prob is i dont have the energy to run.

Jordheim's picture

Why do you only sleep 9 hours

Why do you only sleep 9 hours a week? What does your doctor say about it?

Serendip Visitor's picture

i don't know why...i hurt all

i don't know why...i hurt all over though from the insomnia. i was always happy, now i am in a funk.

Jordheim/outofsteam's picture

So, what kind of doctors have

So, what kind of doctors have you seen for it?

Serendip Visitor's picture

i've seen a variety of drs

i've seen a variety of drs for it.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Sleep i miss you so!

I have come down with insomnia as of late. this is not the first time however. though it is the worst i am now on day 6 with no sleep. and i have try those sleeping pills to no avail. however i have yet to start showing any signs other than looking partialy dead! does anyone have any ideas what i can do? p.s. i apologize for any miss spellings remember i havent slept for 6 days!

Jordheim's picture

What does your doctor say

What does your doctor say about it?

Target&#039;s victim's picture

sleep deprivation as a weapon

My former employer Target has contracted a grp to sabotage my life. Psychological warfare/sleep deprivation is and has been used for over two years!!! Tools used are common furniture and I don't know if an addition micro-speaker is attached or the item itself is the tool of noises to disrupt my sleep. Sometimes every 30 minutes. I have emailed Dr Phil many many times to expose these illegal pratices. They are successfully operating because I don't have the resources to obtain proof that this is a weapon not coinincidences. Sleep deprivation by loud noises such as door slams, plastic bottles popping or cracks. Any noise recorded can be used at night as a weapon if used continually and disruptively. I am currently staying at a room all by myself. No human activity to explain the loud noises. This is not a disorder. I take sleeping pills, wear sonic ear plugs, and sound proof whatever room I am sleeping in. This is a evolution of over two years. I have tried all kinds of drastic measures to isolate and sound proof the imediate area. Different locations, different household, even homeless shelters. Local saturation influence, connections are being utilized to conduct phychological warfare to me. Dr. Phil while a phychological doctor could in fact validate that sleep deprivation can be used as a weapon!
I told Dr. Phil that one tactic used by this invisible grp is unpredicted rapid changes. I just read in a phychology web page that sleep deprivation causes irrational responses to unpredicted rapid changes. I couldn't understand what the goal was for keeping me up till I read this. Dr. Phil's understanding and wisdom would be lead in the right manner to adress this torturering manner. I have chronic injuries as a result of the job, of which they have successfully blocked any medical advancement. This is one of the reasons I am a Target of my former employer TARGET. All ties, and liabilities were severed in the course of this four year torment. A disability claim has been blocked for four years, to accomidate the mego-giant polished name.

benjamin barber's picture

sleep deprivation weapons

I don't want to sound mean to you in any sort of way, but I suspect that you have schitzophrenia, which causes auditory hallucinations. There are a variety of ways that a doctor can tell you for sure if you have this, as parts of the brain are not wired as they should normally. And though they are expensive, you should be able to talk to the department of human services, and explain that you think you have onset schitzophrenia. They should be able to get you on a health plan, which you can use for the treatment of the disease. Its important that you get it treated soon, because for some it is a degenerative disease, which will only become worse over time

Jordheim's picture

Why would they do this to

Why would they do this to you?

It's been a few months since you posted this, so hopefully by now you have seen a doctor that could help you with the situation.

zelldon S. harden's picture


how long can a person live without sleep

Serendip Visitor's picture

9 days

i went on a meth binge for a lil over a week. i was out with my friends alot was working nights at my job till i got switched to days, went from about 3 to 11 at night to 5 to 130 in the afternoon. i was up late all the time so i figured i didnt need to sleep if im getting up at 3. by the 4th day i started hearing things. the 5th hearing and seeing. by the 6th i was feeling things. i was carrying on full conversations with people i thought were there and people that were but they wernt actually talking to me. most my coworkers thought i had gone insane. it was about 1:30 in the morning n i was out driving on this long kinda county road and i started halucinating. i thought i was on this old gravel road from a place i went on about a year ago had water along the road like this one did, well i missed a corner, went off into the water, a swampy flooded feild, i thought my family was in my truck with me, i was crying trying to find them i could here there screams but couldnt find them. i got out of my truck and swam up to the road and while i was waiting i could see my family around the back of the truck as shadows standing there kind of hugging n just standing there. fact of the matter is. meth dose not make u halucinate the sleep deprevation dose. get some damn sleep. trust me theres nothing scaryer. mainly cuz u cannot determian what is real and what is not. theres nothing like it and nothing as horrible. so please sweetdreams everyone. learn from my mistakes.

aha's picture


dude i know what you mean..i was in greece 5 days on speed (prom trip to greece from croatia) ... on the fifth day i thought i was in croatia and was so hungry so i took my bags and went walk "home" i was gone for like 2 hours and had some mystical experiences (or they seemed so).. when i realised where i was i was shocked and bursted in tears... nothing ever compared to that halucinations.

amanda's picture

pregnant and cant sleep

Hi- I'm 16 weeks pregnant and I have only been getting two hours of sleep a day for the past two weeks. I can't fall asleep before 6:30 am and my eight month old gets up at eight am. I have tried taking tylenol pm and it doesn't work. I know its not good for me or the baby and I don't know how much longer I can go like this. I talked to my dr but she said its a pregnancy thing. My husband seems to think because I'm a stay at home mom my body doesn't need as much sleep because I'm not as active during the day as I used to be. I told him he was wrong. Ill have him read this article. Someone please help. The lack of sleep is starting to get to me and that's not a good thing when I have a baby inside and my son to take care of.

twins mum's picture

lack of sleep

Hi honey please dont worry, i too was the most concerned about my unborn twins but i was told they still sleep in their own patterns and as long as u rest they will be fine :), try the product i recommended it really works, also if ur not experiencing it urself its hard to understand so be patient with your partner, i have since had another baby a girl, and i was fine with that pregnancy i am well still and have had no reoccuring probs, but u need to nip it in the bud, i had no sleep for months and i was misdiagnosed with psycosis, and ended up being pregnant and sectioned, u need to ask if a small dose of quetapine will help when i was pregnant with my second, i took a small dose (50g) of it and it knocks u out lol! it works by slowing down thoughts and things so u can clear ur head at night, same with the eye mask, good luck and let me know how u get on :) x

Mel90's picture

My Experience Going on 23 hours

I'm going on 23 hours without sleep, but I thought I'd research this for fun. At the moment, everything seems to happen on delay... like I'll turn to look at an object and what I see while turning is slower than what is really happening, and so I see the object a bit after I would have normally. Nothing serious. I'm really hungry, and after this I'm going to grab an orange.
But for anyone doing research, and just because I want to list them (I'm bored), here is the complete list of my symptoms (besides the 2 listed above):
1. I tend to stare and go into my imagination instead of sleeping or knowing what I'm looking at. Unlike normal zoning out, I don't remember a thing I was physically looking at when I snap out of it, but I remember vividly what I was picturing in my head. Even when it's dark I keep my eyes open to think instead of closing them.
2. I either tap my foot or bounce my leg or take part in some other nervous movement, but I feel no urge to move besides that.
3. Headache, and minor hallucinations... things look like they're breathing or have a heartbeat or they're growing or getting smaller, or the air seems to make invisible things that are moving. This is the first time I've had these, and this is the longest I've ever been up. So this should be interesting. We'll see how bad they get before I can sleep. Haven't heard anything yet, but then I have been listening to my ipod since 4am.
4. I keep thinking that there are spiders on or near me when I try to sleep. This is partially warranted... I just killed a hairy 4 inch long nursery web spider (almost the size of my hand) from the basement the other day, and that wasn't the only one down there (This is my second huge one, and I've also killed at least one of their offspring)... And there was a pinching beetle down there. And an earwig and a little spider in my room... lots of ladybugs... a wasp started building his nest on the outside of my window, and I had knock that down between his trips to bring more mud... SO... excuse me if I'm a bit paranoid about the bugs. When it's dark I sometimes see dark things moving near me, or in the light I think I see a web or a flying spider or something.
5. I feel things more than I normally do. For instance, my shirt tag is driving me nuts, and I don't usually think anything about that.

(Please note that I'm not good with staying awake, so I'm probably further gone than many people would be.)

Anonymous's picture

I haven't slept

I have been sleeping but only for a short amount of time.It seems i cant fall asleep.Sometimes i last all night with the tv on but with the fan sometimes i last all night awake drawing or watching tv or using the computer.i have been getting dark circles around my eyes.And i cant seem to tell if am dreaming sometimes or awake

Joseph Matheson's picture

Sleep Deprivation Experiment

Hello. I am beginning my own personal sleep deprivation experiment. I decided to do this after reading your posts. So far, I think it's only been 18 hours that I've been awake. Normally around this time I would be going to bed, but my circumstances are different. My ultimate goal is to switch my sleep schedule. Recently I quit my job and spent my days sleeping later and later until I started lazily waking up at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I decided then to just keep pushing it until I started going to sleep at noon but only to wake up at, say, 5 o'clock. It was I could fall asleep at 5 a.m. and sleep for 8 hours and lay in bed for 2 or 3 until I finally got up. Now it's like I can't seem to pass waking up at 5 p.m.

So, therefore, I have decided to just stay awake until, say, 10 p.m. tonight and go to bed, then wake up at a "normal" time in the morning. But on further thinking I think it may be interesting to see just how far I can push the envelope. The longest I've ever stayed awake was 36 hours. I remember that not being fun, as I worked a job that required driving as part of the job, and the lack of sleep made it scary to drive, kind of like white knuckle, white line fever stuff.

Anyway, what I've planned to do is, well, be prepared. I figure A) don't drive anywhere, so make sure there's enough food in the house to hold me over, B) entertainment... as I am doing this alone in my own house, I will be completely secluded from the outside world and will need things to do to pass the time: watch movies, play video games, etc... C) I will keep a kind of log of my experience.

I'm very interested in this stream-of-consciousness and hallucination stuff that you guys are talking about. Now I don't know if I have the willpower to hold out long enough without passing out for 22 hours straight or whatever after a 48 hour stretch, but I will do everything in my power, coffee included, to stay awake and not go completely insane. So, we will see what happens.

jake fisher's picture


i just cant sllep most night my eyes just wont let me some times i will go on advrege 36 to 40 hours with out sleep then i sleep straight for a day and do it all again how will this effect my health email me at

Mandy's picture

Unusual Sleep Disorder after Sleep Deprivation

I've suffered from something for 20 years after going through a period of sleep deprivation in 1989. It's been diagnosed as several things from CFS to Environmental illness, Severe Candidiases, M.E., PTSD etc but I just cant help feeling I did something to my brain when I pulled so many all-nighters in 1989. I was in college and pulling all-nighters for several exams, as was common for me back then, as well as being a competitive diver, gymnast, honor role student. The Christmas of 1989, I pulled 2 all-nighters in a row for 2 exams and I almost fainted from it but collected myself had a good night sleep, and then I pulled another all-nighter for a paper. After writing the paper i was having weird fears, I assume due to sleep deprivation. Then, i slept one night and took a bus to Toronto for one night before going back to Ottawa to catch a flight same day to Arizona for Christmas. In Toronto, my sister locked us out of her place so we had to stay up all night in a Tim Horton's and wait for my ride at 5:30 am to go to Ottawa. In a restaurant on the way to Ottawa we stopped for breakfast and I fainted into my food. He carried me to the car and I made it back to Ottawa and didn't even think of not going to Arizona still, but slept 1 hour and then hopped a flight to Arizona which was an overnight flight which I can't sleep sitting up and we stopped over in Chicago. The walls and floors were moving and I was feeling that faint feeling again and so hyper=exhausted that I was trying to lie down anywhere I could.

So by now this was the second all-nighter in a row after a series of other all-nighters and we made it to Arizona the following night and I always thought having a good night sleep would refresh me. I slept 9 hours and shockingly woke feeling the same way, that sick, stinging eyes, hyper-exhausted, sleep deprived feeling, though was hard to rest and others didn't understand and wanted me to attend family functions. I want allowed to stop going to school either so went back but was never the same. It was agonizing and made me feel like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Any night I got less than 8 hours sleep I would feel that same hyper-exhausted sick, faint feeling even if it was 7 1/2 hours sleep. Is there something you can do to your brain during sleep deprivation that can cause it to click into some sort of pattern that if you have anything less than 8 hours sleep you feel faint, sick to your stomach and can't function well. I was always someone who functioned fine on 5 or 6 hours sleep and this is a painfully tired feeling that makes one feel incapacitated at times. I even became agoraphobic out of fear of collapsing which did happen at times, even on 6 hours sleep. I've been in a sleep lab and they said I had some symptoms of narcolepsy without having the condition, like too much rem or something? or going into it too fast. And I was told I had "spikes" in my sleep data which the psychiatrist in the sleep lab said they couldn't really explain. I googled it and only found temporal lobe epilepsy which I don't think that fits my situation.

Any insight would be appreciated or whether this is an actual real phenomenon that can happen. I'm already a light sleeper so even getting 8 hours a night is hard, my body seems to naturally wake up after 6 or 7 and I can't fall back asleep many times, yet my body seems to also naturally now need 8 hours to feel functionable.... so I end up feeling painfully hyper-exhausted and sleep deprived. Drugs of any kind don't seem to help or have severe side effects that I cant tolerate. It is very debilitating and even painful to be this tired a lot or feeling like I will faint or collapse from lack of sleep, even when I have had enough that I shouldn't feel this way.

tom's picture

I have VERY similar problem

For me it was after a lot of sleep restriction and maybe 2 all nighters in 1998. After a while I could not attain refreshing recovery sleep even if time was available. To this day I feel utterly sleep deprived most of the time. It is severely disabling and very difficult to explain to anyone. Sometimes the problem causes me SEVERE depression, which can lift immediately if I get a nap. I've been to many doctors but honestly there's very little they can do. (yes i've tried everything from therapy to epilepsy drugs to anti-depressants to tranquilizers, but no affect)

On a spect scan my brain looks like a sleep deprived brain. Low temporal and parietal lobe activity. High frontal activity. I've never had a seizure that anyone's ever seen.

What it has always felt like to me is that I dream so much that I wake up completely exhausted and burned out. It also feels like I get very little refreshing deep sleep.

Lately I've been sleeping hooked up to a zeo and it is confirming my suspicions. I spend an enormous amount of time in REM (4+ hours) at the expense of deep sleep (20 minutes).

I have also noticed that only the naps with deep sleep have the effect on my brain that I so desperately need. Naps with only REM just make me feel worse.

I will continue to gather data. I think that the initial sleep deprivation triggered a change in sleep architecture that left me deprived of deep sleep and burned out from REM, and for some reason it's self perpetuating.

You are the first person I've seen out here on the net who sounds like they've have had a truly similar experience. Please let me know if you'd like to correspond.

Anonymous's picture

Hay. I just need to post

I just need to post this, to tell someone.
I haven’t slept for 306hours 23 minutes.
I'm in grade 11, and I do Chemistry, Information Processing Technology, Legal Studies, Business, Math’s B and English. I'm an honor student, or at least, I was..

I have been subscribed to Valium, the sleeping tablet. It does not work.
I have been subscribed to Prozac, the sleeping tablet. It does not work.
They have put me on Zoloft, the anti-depressant. It does not work.

I see current hallucinations, someone is calling out my name, ordering me to do things, it’s a familiar voice but I can't make out whom. I try my best to sleep at times, but I keep having these nightmares. This creature, keeps on trying to kill me and most of the time, it’s real. Well, not real I mean that's impossible it’s all in my head but it seems like it’s real. I used to be quite popular in school, being a part of all the sports and an A-grade student, but ever since the first week without sleep, I've just been fading away, in a sense. I'm quiet, anxious, depressed, low self esteemed, Paranoid. Some points I think I'm Schizophrenic. But I research too much to know it’s not. It's just sleep deprivation.

I used to hand all my assignments in on time, be motivated to do almost anything. But that just doesn't happen anymore. I don't know what to believe is real, or in my head. I try do my assignments but instead I just stare at them, dazed and confused. After a while I forgot where I am and why I'm staring at a piece of paper.

It is scary. I blank out completely at times and wake up somewhere completely different. And I wasn't sleeping while I blanked out, I just completely forgot how I got there. I'm scared, very scared. I can't even make sense anymore when I'm talking, It's like I'm forgetting how to talk. I forget my name, forget my friends and family. I forget almost everything.

Yes, I am tired, but I'm restless. I can't go to the doctors for help, they tell me not too. The voices that I hear now. I have to follow them because they order me too, I don't know why I follow what they say, they just seem so familiar, and I feel like they want answer's from me, but I don't know what they want.

jordheim's picture

Do you have parents?

Do you have parents?

Anonymous's picture

The elderly & sleep dep

I care for my mother who is 101. She suffers from sleep deprivation and it is websites like these that have helped me to help her. Her symptoms (during these episodes) are similar to those described...hallucinations, people in her apartment that won't leave, constantly singing loudly and not wanting her to read etc. etc. She has had varying degrees of anxiety over her many years and when that kicks in she can't sleep. Older people are fearful it is easy to experience paranoia. If she didn't have all her marbles, I would just think dementia. But she is sharp and knows these images are in her brain witnessed only by her. But they often get the upper hand and she needs reassurance that she is not going crazy and that they are not real. Her doctors have concluded that it is heart med's, or just old age. One doctor said his grandmother suffers from them too. But, as this young girl has concluded, sleep deprivation is quite real and now knowing that, my mother and I are better able to get a hold on it at-the-onset. I hope this young girl, 11th grader, will seek help to evaluate over-load, nutrition & other options to break the cycle. I am glad she has made the important step of talking about it.

Kevin's picture

Silent Killer

Sleep deprivation is such a widespread thing. And yet many don't realize how dangerous a significant sleep debt can be, especially with activities like driving. So many thousands of people die every year due to sleep-related car accidents and it's really tragic. So thanks for drawing such attention to the effects of lost sleep. The more awareness the better!

Mad's picture

My mom

My mom has been telling me for the past year or two(I'm 15) that Im gettin sick because I'm not going to bed even though I'm getting the recommended amount of sleep, I'm basically going to be at 10 maybe 10:30 I get sick and she blames it on me staying up this has been pissing me off and If I could get someone to tell me that this does not happen because of that thank you alot

moses's picture

lack of sleep

my name is Moses.i am working in a hotel as front office executive at nights.
so i will sleep for all the night only 2 to 3 hours
i will sleep but i wo'nt get the pleasant sleep.
at the day time also i cant sleep
my hair is loosing.
and i have a small problem also,that is!
my brain will continuously think of something
while i am sleeping also by brain will be in thinking
i dont know what i will think,
i will think this that all the nuisance
this is happening from last 3 years.once i visited the dictor
he gave me a medicine for a week it is well after that
i stopped and now from last 1 year it is again started
give me a good sujjestions.
i will be waiting for you's reply

thanking you

tabby's picture

hallucinations...and weird dreams 22 and i cudnt get enuff sleep..i stayed hours on end laying in bed trying to sleep but nothing wud work i wud constantly see black shadows moving from the corner of my eye and one night i finally fell asleep around 4:56 am and woke up at 5:02am the freaky thing was i saw a young girl about 17 saying"you want to know how i died" and thing im awake and the ambulance was around my house i was scared i yelled and thought there was a huge fire outside..then i tried to go back to sleep and there was a man in my dreams who was preventing me to sleep or dream everytime i saw him it was like i was forced out..i wud gasp everytime id wake..the timing is a lil off..5 mins 2 mins maybe a couple of secs..i kept a record ..i thought i was going crazy//ive seen weird shapes hover over me and i dont knw what possesed me to reach over and touch it...ive felt a cold brush against my legs..before going to bed ive seen yellowish spiders next to me, i was too scared to sleep i was traumatized paranoid..the only thing that has been working is over the counter sleeping aids..and havent seen anything its only been a week ...will keep ya updated!!just wondering if my conditions are related!!!

Anonymous's picture

that stuff has been happening

that stuff has been happening to me well not the same thing but stuff like it.I cant sleep like something stops me from sleeping.One time i was sleeping and i heared a voice laughing behind me while i was trying to sleep.Ever since i founda uigi board in my room i really cant sleep.Well i also have a dog and sometimes i hear him like barking while hes asleep.but the thing is he stands up while hes asleep and barks and nothing like at the wall.

Anonymous's picture

Weird dreams

Every time I go to sleep lately ive been have very scary nightmares. They all interact with one another because the same guy is in all of them. There is a burned man that wears a funny hat and a striped red and green sweater. He also has like knife fingers, and in all of the nightmares here tries to kill me with those.

Anonymous's picture


I keep having these nightmares.. I am afraid to fall asleep.
I need sleep.. but I don't want to. The nightmares are too frightening. Everyone thinks I am crazy, but everytime I fall asleep a man with a scary voice and a hand with claws comes after me. He wants to kill me!
Can anyone help me??
I don't want to go to sleep!

A Guy 's picture

One way to end nightmares

Im not saying it will work for everyone but i found that stopping nightmares is truely in your head, as in ITS YOUR HEAD. I used to have extremely vivid nightmares and often woke up sweating. Finally i got sick of the fear and decided to do something about it. I realized that in my dreams its my world. i would prepare by watching something PG no violence/language ect. Then when i finally close my eyes i focus on facing whatever horror my mind could throw at me. At first it didnt do anything but slowly i noticd that i could think in my dreams and tell that it was a dream while still asleap. from there it progressed to being able to force myself awake before it got to intense. Finally one night during a nightmare where something was trying to kill me i was able to take full control. just as i was about to be killed i heard a voice say that it cant happen. my dream froze, reversed to the point just before i was about to be killed and i was able to fight back against the monster till i killed it. i woke up a little shaken but feeling good. ever since then i havent had a nightmare. the bizzar creatures my mind throws at me at night has become more like the worlds best horror movie and i enjoy when they come out to "play" at night. Im not saying that this trick will work for everyone but its still worth a try.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Make sure that you have taken

Make sure that you have taken dinner much before your normally do. Maybe that will help. Here I am presuming that your dinner time and your sleep time do not have much of a gap between them. The idea is to let the food get digested by the time you doze off. Your reason maybe other, who knows, but I was trying to help.

Anonymous's picture

I have been having some late

I have been having some late late nights for over a year now and I can't seem to recover from them by sleeping more. I was thinking if it is my diet (not enough nutrients, vitamins, etc), the time I spend looking at T.V. & computer screens, or just that I need more sleep rather than sleeping at 10pm and waking up at 7:30am.

anonymous's picture

Sleep Deprivation- How it affects you

Yea guys i had so much trouble sleeping and stuff but it was because i was taking ADHD medicine. That stuff keeps you up. Iwent on and it tells you a lot of stuff why you need sleep and how it affects you. I realized that it really affects how your brain functions and how your body functions. It's so important for one to get his sleep.

This was a very well written report. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous's picture

Just curious

I was just curious, but can slight sleep deprivation actually increase mental activity in some fields ie. increased performance.

Jordheim's picture

It helps me with creativity,

It helps me with creativity, but not much else.

Jordan R's picture

haha so im really enjoying

haha so im really enjoying how i searched effects of sleep deprivation because i am currently awake when i should have been asleep hours ago, and what i find is a very lenthy and im sure wordy article about something (i didnt take the time to read it).....just thought that was kind of funny

Anonymous's picture

haha me too man third day

haha me too man third day awake. The elephants are starting to come out.

Anonymous's picture

going on 2 years insomniac

just before eighth grade i started not sleeping well. i used to always get atleast 8 hrs of sleep when given the chance. now my usual is about 4. there are days when i dont sleep for two days straight. my body stopped allowing me to sleep in. 6 hrs is the most i ever get. ive been tired every single day. completely exhausted, i dont want to do anything, i get depressed, i have mood swings. more & more often i cant focus. in school everything is mush. its like nothing makes sense, thats why my grades are sucking. i try, and my brain just quits. one time i was trying to read and the letters got all fuzzy, and fell off the page of the book;hallucinations...and i hear voices. the other night it was like 10 of them having a conversation in french or somthing. i dont even know french! how could i 'hallucinate it up'? i drift in and out of conciousness even when im having conversations, i dont know where my life goes. sometimes i just pass out anywhere. i passed out at my friends house during dinner, we sat down & it was time to pray, and i was out like a light, even they know i need to sleep, so they let me. ive passed out in a hotel lobby on a church trip. they just left me there, and i slept for a good couple hours. ive passed out in my backyard, at school, during PE! how did i do that? i drag myself along every day. even though i can pass out really easy, when it comes time to sleep i cant! i just lay there. ive even started sleeping on the floor, i guess the firmer surface helps, but im still not sleeping good. ive tried 6 DIFFERENT MEDS. some that i didnt even know existed. ive tried all natural stuff, prescribed...
ive come to the point where i just start crying, and im so tired my entire body hurts. and its not like im just not sleeping, i use up my energy, im a athlete, so im really deprived here. and i keep on wanting to find more information, but it scares me. ive heard i can die!
any comfort?

Raw Poet's picture

Sleep deprivation and raw food.

I read alot of these comments on sleep from various perspectives, one one important thing missing here, regarding not sleeping much and feeling like you can't concentrate is basically tempory, as it's just the process of shifting consciousness, that's all. From left to right hemiphere. According to tony wright who's conducted sleep deprivation experiments, and attempted to break the world record of 11 days, the left brain needs more sleep than the right. The issues here is that when you brain is fueled up with the proper brain nutrition, it's much easier to stay awake, because your right brain responds to high quality nutrition more than the left brain. There is alot to this theory. Well worth checking out. . . . . . for more information no this whole theory. Also another thing that happens during sleep dep is that the body goes through a massive detox, because the right brain becomes more active be starts throwing everything out! Which then goes into your blood stream and makes you feel sluggish. The good thing is that if you juice lots and eat lots of fruit, etc, you don't have the same issues to the and degree. It's still not easy to do sleep dep even with these changes though, but it makes it alot easier. I've def had altered states me consciousness during reduced sleep that have been completely positive, and the changes can come about really quickly. If anyone's up for doing a joint or group sleep dep experient online, with a support network, i'd be up for it! It would help to be able to speak to people online to monitor the situation and also to encourage each other. Also a really recommend eating as much high quality raw food as possible. I've been eating alot of hemp seeds and greens, avocado, green juices, wild greens such as nettles, etc, and this kind of lubricates the brain. Also vitamin c protects the brain. Another useful thing maybe melatonin supplements. Although they're traditionally used to aid sleep, they are also useful if you're staying awake. . . . . . .

Anonymous's picture

Sleep dep experiment?


Two things caught my attention. First and most obvious is the experiment. Last Night I stayed up all night with a friend to play a game. But later that day I had work. After work, which is actually tonight, I have been awake for 40 hours now. I've decided to go another night without sleep. Possibly a third night if I make it through this one ok. Im interested in your group experiment/support group. As of right now, the loss of sleep has led me to a greater state of selflessness; this is important to my spiritual beliefs. Another effect I am currently experiencing is a more active role of my sub-conscience. I just KNOW some things and I get urges to do small things I would normally think were not important to at that moment but end up turning out to be extremely beneficial.

Anyways, secondly, I would like a list of all the foods in this category that you mentioned if you would so kindly please.

 me's picture

Does sleep deprivation cause

Does sleep deprivation cause part of your brain or neurons to actually die? What are the things sleep deprivation cause you to lose that you can't get back by fully sleeping again?

Excuse for not handling the appropriate technical vocabulary, I would just like to know if all the consequences from sleep deprivation are temporal and disappear when an individual previously sleep deprived starts getting full sleep again. Thanks

Anonymous's picture

I'm just really

I'm just really interested..
I either sleep way too much, or I never sleep.
So far i've beens without about 28 hours of sleep.
I would like to know when sleep deprivation side effects will kick in, if they havent already?
I don't feel any different other than i'm a little over emotional.

like, what would a person expierence if they have been awake for 48 hours?
60 hours? etc.

Nina's picture

Hi, I've being working the

Hi, I've being working the graveyard shift for about 2 years now, I'm a young woman but feel like if I was 80 years old, during this time I've had 2-3 weeks periods of non sleep or very little sleep, I've tried sleeping pills but they only worked for a couple of days and had to take doses higher every time so I stopped taking them, lately I feel like if I was constantly drunk, dizzy and very often forget things and when I'm talking I forget what I was about to say, I say things that don't make any sense, I have done many stupid things due to the lack of sleep, I've let the stove on, I've passed red lights not once but several times, once I was at a bakery and had the bread that I wanted to buy on the tray....well I got out of the bakery without paying for the bread and with the bread on the tray! I had let my kids waiting at their school because I forgot to pick them up, when I finally get sleep....I've slept from 14 to 16 hrs non stop BUT still feeling tired, I'm seriously thinking about quitting my job soon, unfortunately the lack of employment out there has kept me from getting a day time job.

Jordheim's picture

Hopefully you have resolved

Hopefully you have resolved your situation with a shift change or by seeing your doctor.

I have a sleep disorder, so the way you describe yourself is a little worse than my natural state. If it hasn't majorly screwed something up for you yet, it will before too long. See your doctor about it.

Britt's picture

Its crazy reading some of

Its crazy reading some of these comments. I have been up for a little over three days and the effects are starting to set in. Im completely exhausted, I have been lying in bed for the past 3 hours trying to sleep, and cant. Hence why I am awake reading about this and commenting. Ive taken so many sleeping pills they aren't much help to me. I'm glad im not the only one in this boat.
Ive gone days on end without sleep before, of course with the help of LSD, Cocaine, and chain smoking cigarettes. Of course those were my crazy party days; Im way pass that stage now.
Its funny, Im not on anything whatsoever, and am still managing to stay awake.
I'm definitely starting to feel the effects. I have some anxiety and I think this lack of sleep has made it worse, I cried my eyes out for two hours for no reason. I went into my living room just now to get the power supply to my laptop, I was completely horrified to go in there. Im sitting on my bed with my sound asleep fiancé and our doberman. I am completely terrified to get off of the bed right now. crazy right? Out of the corners of my eyes i am starting to see tracers. and my vision is starting to get spotty. every little noise freaks me out. the tv screen in front of me is starting to slowly move.

I hope we can all get the good rest that we need :)

Anonymous's picture

You claim in your article

You claim in your article that sleep deprivation leads to "no activity in the temporal lobe". This is absurd for several reasons. Every brain region is always active (excluding severe brain damage), so at most, there might be a slight decrease in activity, but even still, other brain areas can't just take over the job of language processing, since their circuitry is adapted for other functions.

What exactly is the "I-function"? Do you mean the sense of self? There is no one brain region where the "self" is located, if that's what you are implying. "The neocortex is located in the prefrontal cortex"? Are you sure?

Try doing a little more research next time...

D2's picture

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

There is actually a medical condition called sleep apnea. I was recently tested in a Sleep Lab and was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which means I am not breathing properly while I sleep and fail to get deep sleep, AKA, REM sleep.

For those trying to experience sleep deprivation: go to library and read a book on it. There are plenty of people who can't sleep because of this physical conditions who I'm sure have been studied. Don't make yourself sick (sleep deprived) on purpose that is just plain stupid!

I just got out of the CPAP Lab and I was not able to sleep with the mask that is supposed to assist you with your breathing. I tried two of the smallest and lightest masks.

It felt like I had 5 lbs of plastic on my upper lip and upper jaw. I think there is something going on with the health insurance industry related to this that are pushing these masks because they are less expensive than surgery.

Please only reply to me if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or think you may have sleep apnea or have relevant information.