How long can one go without sleep?

How long can one go without sleep?

Infographic Text: How Long Can One Go Without Sleep?


Lethal Family Insomnia (FFI) is a genetic disease that affects a person's sleep-awakening cycles. People with FFI can not enter into slow-waking sleep and may live with caution for months before they die. In the early 1990s, a man named Michael Corke spent the last six months of his life incapable of sleeping.


In 1965, senior gymnast Randy Gardner broke the world record for the longest time deliberately spent in 11 days. Other experiments showed a limit of 8 to 10 days. While the participants in the study were grumbling enough after so long awake, they could return to normal after one or two good nights sleep.


After 48 hours of awakening, many people will begin to have microarrays, which are short power outages that last up to 30 seconds. It is also common for people to develop visual hallucinations and disturbed thoughts around this point, even if they have no mental health diagnoses. Illusions often get worse with time until the person is asleep.

Even a day without sleep can affect a person's mind

After 24 hours without sleep, a person will gradually lose his ability to think clearly. They will have difficulty concentrating, memorizing details and making decisions. Insomnia will reduce their cognitive performance as well as the blood alcohol level of 0.10%. By comparison, a 0.08% blood alcohol level is considered too drunk for driving.

Bibliographical references:

  1. Clark, J. (n.d.). 10 amazing things have made the brains of people. Retrieved from
  2. Fatal family insomnia. (n.d.). Center for Information on Genetics and Rare Diseases. Retrieved from
  3. Gillin, C.J. (n.d.). How long can a man remain awake? Scientific American. Retrieved from
  4. Hafner, J. (2017, March 22). What if you do not sleep for 24 hours? You are basically drunk. US Network Today. Retrieved from
  5. Waters, F., Chiu, V., Atkinson, A. & Blom, J.D. (2018). Serious deprivation of sleep causes hallucinations and a gradual progression to psychosis with increasing time awake. The border in Psychiatry, 9(1), 303. Retrieved from

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