How long should I stay awake to be healthy?
Knowing the right to time to get some much-needed sleep
Sleep is just as essential as food, water, and exercise. As a human being, you need to nourish your body with sleep in order to reach full physical and mental performance throughout the day. Sleep is also beneficial for mental health and general wellbeing. However, so many of us get so little sleep that it has become a modern-day health crisis.
Sleep Republic is here to help you get the correct amount of sleep for you, every single night. We do this by including cutting edge technology and high-quality materials in the design of our mattresses. Buy yours now and try for 100 days, completely risk-free.
How long should I go without sleep to be healthy?
Most adults need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, or every 16 to 18 hours. However, exactly how long you should stay awake depends on a range of factors, including:
- Age. Babies, children, and teens require more sleep than grown adults. However, it’s a myth that elderly people need less — they often get a lower quality of sleep, and tend to make up for this during the day.
- Exercise. High-level athletes and people working physically demanding jobs require more sleep than average. Those working sedentary jobs still need the required 7 to 8 hours, though.
- Genetics. Genetically, some people just need more sleep than others. Adults may require up to 11 hours of sleep to feel well-adjusted throughout the day.
The best way to evaluate your needs is to start a sleep schedule and listen to your body. Changes to your exercise routine, travelling across time zones, stress, alcohol, sugar, and caffeine, can all affect how long you stay awake, to name just a few.
What happens if I stay awake too long?
Staying awake for too long can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your health. This is why sleep deprivation is viewed as an effective but inhumane form of torture. The concept of working, studying, or partying through an ‘all-nighter’ is often romanticised. But in reality, this is sleep deprivation, and it’s very serious.
Let’s take a look at a breakdown of how the body responds to sleep deprivation:
16 hours without sleep
This is pretty standard for most people. After 18 hours without REM sleep, children will start to get irritable and angry, while adults will start to feel tired.
24 hours without sleep
This is also a common occurrence for many people around the world. At this point, your health is not affected. However, your performance is. 24 hours without sleep is comparable to a blood alcohol content of 0.10 — twice the legal limit.
48 hours without sleep
This ranks as extreme sleep deprivation. Here, your brain is severely impaired. Your reaction time is slowed, while it is nearly impossible to retain new information and memories. Auditory and visual hallucinations are also common at this stage.
96 hours without sleep
You’ll start to have frequent microsleeps — brief, quick periods of sleep with almost no knowledge that they even happened. The urge to sleep becomes almost unbearable. Sleep deprivation psychosis will also set in, distorting your perception of reality.
At the core of sleep deprivation is the concept of ‘sleep debt’. Once you lose sleep, it’s very hard to pay the debt back. Having poor sleep all throughout the week cannot be reversed by sleeping in on the weekends. And on the other hand, big weekends of partying will affect your energy levels and cognitive performance all week.
I get 8 hours of sleep usually. Why do I still feel tired?
After all the talk about hours in this article, it’s important to mention that, like many things in life, sleep comes down to quality over quantity. Sleep isn’t just a case of putting your head on the pillow and drifting off. It’s actually a full cycle of states that contribute to your overall wellbeing.
Quiet sleep or non-REM sleep
Quiet sleep allows the body to repair itself and prepare for the next day. This stage of dreamless, perceivably restless sleep is the precursor to REM sleep, where you do your dreaming. There are 3 distinct sub-stages of this stage:
- Stage N1: 5 minutes into light sleep, and your muscles begin to relax. You can still be easily roused here.
- Stage N2: Lasting up to 25 minutes, this stage sees your eyes go still and your brain activity becomes irregular.
- Stage N3: Otherwise known as deep sleep, you’ll be very hard to wake in this stage.
Dreaming sleep or REM sleep
Just as quiet sleep repairs your body, dreaming sleep heals and prepares your mind. In this state, your mind is asleep but alert. It is theorised that the brain is hard at work cataloguing and organising, doing away with useless pieces of information that we retain throughout the day. This may be the basis of our dreams, and why they are sometimes so incoherent.
You enter REM sleep every 90 minutes or so during the night, or around 3 to 5 times, depending on how much sleep you get. Your first period of dream sleep may last a few minutes, while the last may last up to 30 minutes.
It’s incredibly important that the body and the mind benefit from the correct architecture of quiet and dreaming sleep. There are many factors that can help you avoid disturbing this careful balance, including:
- Creating and sticking to a regular sleep routine every single day
- Developing a bedtime routine to help wind down after a long day
- Lessening blue light from TVs, phones, tablets, and computers
- Getting 30 minutes of exercise every day, and not before bed
- Avoiding caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and tobacco close to bedtime
- Managing stress and worry throughout the day more effectively
If you are going too long without sleep, you owe it to yourself to create a better sleeping environment. This means blocking out noise and light, and ensuring that you have the best possible mattress.
Sleep Republic uses only the highest quality materials to produce our award-winning mattresses. Buy yours now, and have it delivered fast. We also offer 100 nights for you to try out your mattress, completely risk-free.