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 SLEEPING eXPERT
Though you may have tried to fit a full eight hours of sleep into your schedule, those nights of tossing and turning, getting up multiple times from your bed, and failing to fall into a deep sleep are still bound to happen every once in a while. But, there’s no need to panic — you may have to appear well-rested for that important meeting even if you didn’t get the required sleep the night before, and there are a few ways to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.