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Sleep or Die: Sleep Outfitters Asks How Long One Can Go Without Sleep

By Adam Turner

Sleep or Die: Sleep Outfitters Asks  How Long One Can Go Without SleepLife is a fragile gift. And yet, or perhaps because of this, humans are obsessed with testing their limits and pushing their biological boundaries. You’ve certainly at least wondered, if not informally experimented, how long you can go without “fill in the blank”: breathing, eating, drinking, and so on. Thankfully for all those would-be survivalists, there are some handy standards to literally live by, known as “the Rule of Threes.” As general principles, you can go three minutes without air, three hours without shelter (in a harsh environment), three days without water, and three weeks without food. As always, there are numerous, notable exceptions to the rule, but for trivia night or your own imagined doomsday preparations, those guidelines should be sufficient.

But what about sleep? We spend roughly a third of lives asleep. In fact, the drive to sleep will ultimately even trump the drive to eat, so it’s natural to wonder why we need so darn much of it and if we could get by with less. How long can you go before your body gives in and nods off? Or how long before it even surrenders to “the big sleep” and ends your life altogether? Is that even possible? Unfortunately, the scientific community remains split on the deadliness of sleep deprivation. However, they remain united on one front: You must give sleep its time of day.

So, first off, how long can you go? Well, we have at least one specific reference thanks to a brave, foolish individual. Randy Gardner holds the scientifically-accepted record for staying awake without stimulants for 264 hours, roughly 11 days, as a high school student in the 1960s. (Others since have reportedly beat this record, but without extensive and authenti-cated documentation.) By day 11, he was essentially a vegetable, suffering from eyesight issues, speech and memory deficiencies, and even hallucinations. Gratefully, he did not die, though, and made a full recovery by making up his sleep debt in the days that followed.

logical boundaries. You’ve certainly at least wondered, if not informally experimented, how long you can go without “fill in the blank”: breathing, eating, drinking, and so on. Thankfully for all those would-be survivalists, there are some handy standards to literally live by, known as “the Rule of Threes.” As general principles, you can go three minutes without air, three hours without shelter (in a harsh environment), three days without water, and three weeks without food. As always, there are numerous, notable exceptions to the rule, but for trivia night or your own imagined doomsday preparations, those guidelines should be sufficient.

But what about sleep? We spend roughly a third of lives asleep. In fact, the drive to sleep will ultimately even trump the drive to eat, so it’s natural to wonder why we need so darn much of it and if we could get by with less. How long can you go before your body gives in and nods off? Or how long before it even surrenders to “the big sleep” and ends your life altogether? Is that even possible? Unfortunately, the scientific community remains split on the deadliness of sleep deprivation. However, they remain united on one front: You must give sleep its time of day.

So, first off, how long can you go? Well, we have at least one specific reference thanks to a brave, foolish individual. Randy Gardner holds the scientifically-accepted record for staying awake without stimulants for 264 hours, roughly 11 days, as a high school student in the 1960s. (Others since have reportedly beat this record, but without extensive and authenti-cated documentation.) By day 11, he was essentially a vegetable, suffering from eyesight issues, speech and memory deficiencies, and even hallucinations. Gratefully, he did not die, though, and made a full recovery by making up his sleep debt in the days that followed.

For more information, contact:
Greg McGraw, Territory Sales Manager
Innovative Mattress Solutions (Sleep Outfitters & Mattress Warehouse)
614-436-4115 . gmcgraw@sleeponthebest.com