Saturday, January 29, 2022

How Long Can One Stay Awake?

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Monimoyee Chakrabarty
Just another random potato.

If there is something which is loved by everyone in the world, it’s food. What’s loved even more? Sleep. No one can claim that they do not like to sleep. After a tiring day, all we can look forward to is a few hours of sleep. Some even forget to eat when sleepy. 

Cute little puppy
By Chaay_Tee/ Shutterstock

There are many who go without sleep at nights for various reasons- studies, TV shows, work, talking to people or because they use the quiet time to think. However, all of them take a nap for at least a few hours in the morning. It is not possible for people to go on living without sleep.


Humans are curious and many have conducted experiments on this. How long can one stay awake without consequences? Like many before, Randy Gardner, a seventeen-year-old high school student had conducted this experiment for a science fair. The result being 264 hours, that is 11 days. Several others have tried the same and have gone without sleeping for eight to ten days. While they have not shown any serious medical problems after this, sleep deprivation has resulted in the decrease of the level of concentration, motivation and other higher mental processes- nothing that a good night of sleep can not cure. 

Humans have also tried experimenting on animals. Allan Rechtschaffen of University of Chicago conducted a sleep experiment on rats. A rat placed on a disc above a tray of water is prevented form dozing off by shoving him towards the water, waking him up. The rats used in the study died within a month. The scientists are not sure if they have died for the sleep deprivation or the stress of the whole experiment- being forcefully woken up a thousand times a day.

Sleepy man holding a cup
By Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB/ Shutterstock

Even if a person forces to not sleep, the brain refuses to co-operate. The person may be awake, but they are cognitively dysfunctional. Not sleeping for days can drive people insane. They start hallucinating; their short-term memory is affected. Blood pressure increases, people are more prone to falling ill when sleep deprived. Chances of depression, diabetes, obesity, heart diseases increase. 

It is hard to conduct these experiments as staying awake can cause a lot of stress which in turn causes our body to become weak and susceptible to diseases. People can die because of that. Hence, we cannot find the answer to the question we have in mind. 


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