Explained | What Happens If You Don't Sleep For A Week?

Sleep deprivation, both chronic and acute, does a number of unpleasant things to your body. Here's what they are.

4 min read

Are you ready for a depressing fact? You will spend 9,000 days of your life sleeping. I know. I hate it too. But most humans spend ONE-THIRD of their lives sleeping and that's roughly 9,000 days or 216,000 hours.

But what if you don't like sleeping? Or if you have a job that doesn't let you get adequate sleep? You're probably losing out on some sleep now, aren't you?

I personally don't like sleeping because I feel like it's a waste of time, so I wanted to find out what would happen if I didn't sleep for a week.

Is sleep REALLY a waste of time?

How long is it humanly possible to go without sleep? A few days? A few weeks?

Strap in and get comfy because we're answering many questions about sleep. what happens if you don't sleep for a week.


As much as I feel like sleep is a waste of MY time, it is essential to life. If you didn't sleep your body wouldn't be able to rest and recover from your daily activities and then you'd fall asleep permanently....this is also known as DYING.....and is usually not good.

Most adults need 7-8.5 hours of sleep a night, give or take half an hour. When you get LESS than this amount of sleep, it's called sleep deprivation.

Types Of Sleep Deprivation

There are two kinds of sleep deprivation - partial sleep deprivation and total sleep deprivation.

And depending on how long it's been going on for sleep deprivation is also split into acute sleep deprivation and chronic sleep deprivation.

As the names suggest - partial SD is when you get less sleep than you need - under 5 hours of sleep a night.

Total SD is when you get 0 hours of sleep at night.

Now with most people's work and lifestyle partial SD is what most doctors witness, according to the Indian Society for Sleep Research. But we're going to explore what happens with BOTH scenarios - partial SD or PSD and total SD or TSD.


Day 1

Sleep deprivation, both chronic and acute, does a number of unpleasant things to your body. Here's what they are.
Sleep disturbances are associated with mental health problems among survivors of a natural disaster.

(Photo: iStock)

On day 1, you wake up fresh and decided to start your not-sleeping challenge.

The first 24 hours of not sleeping are challenging but nothing really too difficult till the 24 hour mark. Staying up for 24 hours is fairly common. I've done it and I'm sure you've done it too.

Now as the hours pass, and you FORCE yourself to stay awake, you'll start having trouble learning new information and trouble with decision-making and mood regulation.

This is also when you start really losing touch with social cues and your reaction time slows down. You'll also crave sweet and deep fried foods, because your body's craving instant energy.

You'll experience increased inflammation, which makes it harder for your body to process ANY nutrients you eat. This is unfortunate, because this is when you REALLY need your energy because your immune system is compromised and you'll be EXTREMELY tired.

But, as per the US Centers for Disease Control, 24-hour sleep deprivation affects the body the same as getting drunk and having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent.


That’s higher than the limit to legally drive. In India, the permissible blood alcohol content (BAC) is set at 0.03% per 100 ml of blood. So imagine what your body is like at 36 hours.

Day 2: Meet Microsleeps

Sleep deprivation, both chronic and acute, does a number of unpleasant things to your body. Here's what they are.

After 48 hours of sleep deprivation your body is running on fumes.

(Photo: iStock)

As you push yourself to stay awake for the second day in a row, your mental health joins your physical health. After 48 hours of sleep deprivation you're basically running on fumes.

You'll start hallucinating things, experience depersonalization, anxiety, extreme stress and I REALLY need to tell you that you'll be extremely tired?

You'll also start experiencing something called Microsleeps. Microsleeps are brief periods of sleep that happen without you realizing it. A microsleep usually lasts around 30 seconds.


Day 3: Microsleeps Become Naps

After 3 days of total sleep deprivation, your urge to sleep will be almost impossible to fight. This is when your hallucinations and delusions start becoming more complex - After one day of TSD your hallucinations are like "Oh that chair looks fuzzy." After 72 hours your hallucinations are more like a saas bahu serial.

Fun, right?

Your microsleeps will also become more like naps at this point, because your brain is doing everything in its power to make you go to sleep.

FUN FACT. Did you know that the record for longest time without sleep is 11 days - or 264 hours? It was done In December 1963/January 1964, by 17-year-old Randy Gardner who stayed awake for 11 days and 25 minutes.

Day 5: Where Did Day 4 Go?

Sleep deprivation, both chronic and acute, does a number of unpleasant things to your body. Here's what they are.

After five days of no sleep your perception of reality becomes severely distorted.

(photo: iStock)

After five days of no sleep your perception of reality is EXTREMELY distorted. When this happens it's called sleep deprivation psychosis. Reality is merely a suggestion at this point, and your brain is doing everything it can to make you sleep. This psychosis usually goes away after you get enough sleep.

But while these are just the effects of total sleep deprivation, even chronic partial sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke.

While India doesn't have any statistics on sleep deprivation, a study on COVID's effect on sleep showed that more than 57% of Indians reported getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night.

So if you're constantly sleep-deprived, stop putting your health at risk just chill out...stop pushing yourself so damn hard...and go to sleep.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Sleep Deprivation 

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