Stages of Sleep Deprivation timeline
Stages of Sleep Deprivation timeline

Sleep is required for survival. Your body can heal itself and execute vital biological tasks while you sleep. Adults need approximately 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

However, employment and lifestyle issues might sometimes interfere with your capacity to sleep.

Stages of Sleep Deprivation timeline

Sleep deprivation occurs when you get less sleep than you need or no sleep at all.

A short period of sleep deprivation isn’t usually a cause for concern for most people. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can have significant health consequences if it frequently occurs or for an extended period.

Sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, promote inflammation, and weaken the immune system. Continued sleep deprivation may raise your risk of chronic disease.

There are five stages of sleep deprivation in general. Typically, the stages are separated into 12-hour or 24-hour intervals. The longer you stay up, the worse the symptoms become.

Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep:

Stage 1: After 24 hours

It’s not uncommon to go more than 24 hours without sleeping. It won’t harm your health, but you should anticipate feeling fatigued and “odd.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 24 hours of sleep deprivation is equivalent to 0.10 percent blood alcohol. That’s more than the legal driving limit.

Symptoms of staying up for 24 hours include:

  • drowsiness
  • irritability
  • anger
  • increased risk of stress
  • decreased alertness
  • impaired concentration
  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • tremors
  • reduced coordination
  • increased risk of mistakes or accidents
  • food cravings
  • puffy eyes
  • dark undereye circles

Stage 2: After 36 hours

Your symptoms worsen when you don’t get enough sleep for 36 hours. You’ll have a strong desire to sleep.

Without realizing it, you may begin to have microsleeps or small bouts of sleep. A microsleep lasts about 30 seconds on average.

Different portions of your brain will find it challenging to communicate. This has a significant impact on your cognitive abilities, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • impaired memory
  • difficulty learning new information
  • behavioral changes
  • impaired decision-making
  • difficulty processing social cues
  • slow reaction time
  • increased errors

You’re also more likely to experience physical effects like:

  • increased appetite
  • increased inflammation
  • impaired immune function
  • extreme fatigue

Stage 3: After 48 hours

Extreme sleep deprivation is defined as not sleeping for more than 48 hours. It’s even more challenging to stay up at this stage. Microsleeps are more likely in you.

You might even start to have hallucinations. This happens when you see, hear, or feel something that isn’t there.

Other possible effects include:

  • depersonalization
  • anxiety
  • heightened stress levels
  • increased irritability
  • extreme fatigue

Stage 4: Awake for 72 hours

Extreme sleep deprivation is defined as not sleeping for more than 48 hours. It’s even more challenging to stay up at this stage. Microsleeps are more likely in you.

You might even start to have hallucinations. This happens when you see, hear, or feel something that isn’t there.

  • illusions
  • delusions
  • disordered thinking
  • depersonalization

Stage 5: Awake for 96 hours or more

Your view of reality will be significantly skewed after four days. Your desire to sleep will become intolerable.

Sleep deprivation psychosis occurs when you don’t get enough sleep and cannot comprehend reality.

When you get enough sleep, sleep deprivation psychosis usually goes away.

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Jacob Brown
Hi, I'm Jacob Brown and I'm thrilled to be your go-to source for all things related to sleep on sleepingexpert.info. As a seasoned sleep expert, I've dedicated my career to helping people achieve optimal sleep and improve their overall well-being. With several prestigious prizes and awards under my belt, I take immense pride in being recognized for my expertise in the field. I am also the proud author of numerous books that delve deep into the intricacies of sleep and share valuable tips to ensure a restful night's slumber. Having spent years studying the science of sleep and its impact on health, I bring a wealth of knowledge and insights to my work. Through my expertise, I aim to guide and empower individuals in maximizing their sleep quality, overcoming sleep disorders, and establishing healthy sleep routines. Beyond my professional achievements, I value connecting with my audience on a personal level. I understand the impact that sleep has on our daily lives, so I approach my writing with empathy and a genuine desire to help others. Whether you're struggling with insomnia, looking for practical sleep tips, or simply interested in understanding more about the fascinating world of sleep, you've come to the right place. I invite you to join me on this journey to unlock the secrets of quality sleep and wake up refreshed and energized each day. Welcome to the sleepingexpert.info community!