How long can a person go without sleep?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 344
   Posted 3/6/2006 7:00 PM (GMT -6)   
I've always been able to fall asleep rather quickly and usually need 8-9 hours of sleep a night to function.  But, last week I was really stressed out (my dad has been very ill) and I haven't been sleeping at all.  In 5 days I got approximately 5 hours of sleep (and that was all in one night).  Then, I came down with the flu late last week and have been sleeping a few hours here and there because of the cold/flu medication I'm taking.  But, yesterday I started feeling a little better and decided to skip the medication, but I never fell asleep.  I've never had this happen before and I was quite shocked to find that I could still fully function at work eventhough I wasn't getting any sleep.  (Before this if I didn't get at least 8 hours I've always been really sluggish and completely out of it.)  Has anyone else gone through this or have any advise?  
Thanks in advance.
P.S. I think it may be tied to my activity level, but I'm not sure.  I went home to visit my folks (a few weeks ago) and ran around like a crazy woman trying to get everything done while I was there, (and fell asleep each night) but ever since I've come back - I just sit around and just think about all the things I should be doing rather than doing them.  ARG!   

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 3/6/2006 7:43 PM (GMT -6)   
People can go several days without sleep, but eventually you will sleep!  Keep that in mind that it won't last forever.  It's important, especially for people who are depressed, to get a regular sleep schedule going; go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.  You might try a mild over-the-counter sleep aid (Benadryl works well) at first to get yourself on track.  If it lasts for a while (a couple weeks or more), though, you should see a doc.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 4031
   Posted 3/6/2006 7:48 PM (GMT -6)   

Hey Sadsong, 

Yes,  I have had something very similar to this a several years ago.  I was in my last year of college and doing an internship and working full time to boot.  Too sum it up I ended up with Stress Induced Sleep Disorder which my doctor prescribed Ativan.  The Ativan didn't work so well for me as it had a much more of a sedative effect and I couldnt function during the day.  So I quit taking it and tried Tylenol PM and it worked wonders for me.  Now when I have trouble sleeping this is what I take or I will just take regular Benadryl over the counter as I sometimes worry about taking too much Tylenol.  Anyway, I do have this problem too and have a hard time shutting off my mind of all the things that I have to do or didn't get done or what may be going on in my life at the time.  It tends to want to creep up on me too at bedtime and make itself known.  If it gets to persistent I would let your doctor know as going without sleep can open the door for other problems.


Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 3/7/2006 9:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Anytime I go without sleep for a while I end up eventually falling asleep for a long time to make up for it.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 344
   Posted 3/7/2006 5:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi everyone -

Thanks for all of your ideas. I actually slept pretty well last night. I made sure to make up my bed before hand and only went into my bedroom when I was ready to crawl in and go to sleep. I slept all the way through and only woke up a half an hour or so before the alarm went off. Plus, I had a really productive day at work! Yeah! :)
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