How Long Can You Go Without Sleep?

Lylah M. Alphonse
Shine from Yahoo! CanadaFebruary 24, 2012
How much sleep do you really need?
How much sleep do you really need?

Parents might feel like they forgo sleep as soon as they bring their baby home, but the longest any person has gone without sleep (on purpose) has been 11 straight days.



There were a few side effects.



Randy Gardner was a 17-year-old high school student in California when he decided to avoid sleeping for 264 hours in a row. It was 1964, and, according to researchers, he ended up suffering from memory problems, paranoia, and hallucinations because of it. Other studies have linked sleep deprivation in mice to the development of characteristics associated with Alzheimer's disease, and some have shown that chronic sleep loss may cause obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes among human and animal test subjects alike.



Sleeping helps our brains develop and make neurological connections, bolsters our immune systems, consolidates memories, process information and helps our bodies heal. According to a 2011 National Sleep Foundation poll, 43 percent of American say that they rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights; 15 percent of adults and 7 percent of kids age 13 to 18 reported that they get less than six hours of sleep per weeknight.



So, how much sleep do you really need? Researchers say that there is no "magic number," but in general women sleep longer than men, and babies sleep longer than the elderly. Our bodies actually force us to sleep in tiny increments (called microsleeps) when we've gone too long without rest.



Do you think you get enough sleep?



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