Can you die from lack of sleep?


Lack of sleep can increase the risk of premature death from accidents, injuries, or health problems. This is because lack of sleep can negatively affect your concentration and mood in the short term, and prolonged and repeated lack of sleep has serious health consequences, such as an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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Can you survive without sleep?

If you don't get enough sleep, even for one night, you can start to experience the effects of not getting enough sleep.

Lack of sleep causes problems, which can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Concentration problems
  • Slow physical and mental reactions
  • Nervousness

Usually after getting enough sleep for a night or two, these problems go away.

What happens to your body without sleep?

If you sleep for only a few hours or if you stay awake for several days, severe symptoms can develop, such as hallucinations and psychosis.

After a few days without sleep, it is unlikely that you will die, but it will be difficult for you to stay awake. You can fall asleep no matter what you do, even if the sleep is not as relaxing as your body requires it.

However, severe chronic sleep deprivation can actually lead to death. This can occur in extremely rare conditions, such as fatal familial insomnia or fatal sporadic insomnia. These conditions make it impossible for a person to get enough physical sleep. This ultimately leads to death.

The consequences of lack of sleep.

Everyone has specific sleep needs in order to function properly. The amount of sleep an adult needs is different from the amount of sleep a child needs, and one person may need more or less (on average) than another. Adults sleep an average of seven to nine hours to feel refreshed.

In most cases, sleep deprivation is a sleep deprivation problem, not complete sleep deprivation. However, even slightly insufficient sleep can cause problems.

  • Disturbed sleep : Common sleep disturbances, such as sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome, cause sleep disturbances.
  • Sleep restriction: Sleep restriction occurs when you don't have time to sleep, have insomnia , or can't sleep due to problems like physical pain.

The result of these problems is a lack of restful sleep . Sleep allows your body to flush out toxins and repair itself to maintain healthy function. Over time, if you don't get enough sleep, the biological effects take their toll on many aspects of your body, mind, and mood.


There is ample evidence that lack of sleep increases the risk of a traffic accident.

Many accidents on buses, trains, planes and automobiles that are investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) involve people deprived of sleep.

In addition to falling asleep while driving, the inattention and loss of concentration that can occur when you don't get enough sleep can also be dangerous.

Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can cause a worsening of conditions equivalent to legal excessive consumption of alcohol.

In particular, sleeping less than seven hours a night increases the risk of traffic accidents. Poor quality of sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness also increase the risk. Also, driving at night is more likely to cause accidents for people who don't get enough sleep.

Work injuries and accidents

Industrial accidents and injuries are more likely to happen overnight. The main risk factor for the adverse effects of sleep deprivation is shift work. Shift workers tend to get fewer hours than they need, and sleep often does not match their natural circadian rhythm .

Some major work accidents can be attributed in part to lack of sleep. Several well-known examples include the Exxon Valdez grounding and the subsequent oil spill in Alaska, and the nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Cardiovascular diseases

Lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, including heart attacks. Studies have shown that if you sleep less than five hours a night, you are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack.

Lack of sleep can affect inflammation in the body. When we don't get enough sleep, blood levels of C-reactive protein , a marker of inflammation, rise. This underlying inflammatory process can damage the lining of the blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels), strokes, and heart attacks.


Lack of sleep disrupts the body's metabolism by altering the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Over time, this can increase the risk of diabetes or make pre-existing diabetes worse.

The negative effects of lack of sleep on blood sugar control are believed to be related to changes in the function of pancreatic cells that regulate glucose metabolism.


Obesity increases the risk of premature death, as it can lead to numerous health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. Numerous studies support the link between lack of sleep and an increased risk of obesity .

Mental health

Over time, lack of sleep can affect your mood and cause emotional instability or depression. Depression and anxiety can contribute to other health consequences, from unhealthy coping behaviors to an increased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and even an increased risk of suicide.

The connection between sleep and mood also goes in a different direction: problems such as anxiety are the main causes of insomnia, so their impact on health can be exacerbated.

How to improve your sleep

If you're not getting enough sleep, there are many things you can do to get enough sleep . The focus depends on the subject. You may already know why you are not getting enough sleep or you may need to talk to your doctor about it.

For example, many people have habits that keep them awake. For example, if you go to bed late on social media, this will lead to tiredness, maybe you will take a nap during the day and then go back to sleep late. The solution may be to adjust your schedule.

Work and family responsibilities are another reason for sleep deprivation. Consider talking to your doctor about whether you should see a therapist to adjust your priorities and get better rest.

Medical and psychological problems such as pain, sleep apnea, depression, etc., will require treatment and advice from a healthcare professional.

Research has led to important safety guidelines when it comes to work-related sleep deprivation, especially with long-distance truck drivers. For shift workers , sleep needs to be adjusted so that sleep and wake times are consistent.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Will your body finally make you fall asleep?

Yes, if you don't get enough sleep, you will fall asleep. Sleep delay (the time it takes to fall asleep) depends on how much sleep your body needs.

Could lack of sleep cause brain cell death?

Not directly. But sleeping helps your body eliminate harmful waste, and it is believed that when you don't get enough sleep, these toxins can damage your body (including the functioning of your brain) in the long term.

How long does it take to recover from lack of sleep?

It usually only takes a day or two to recover from short-term problems caused by lack of sleep. Some of the problems caused by prolonged sleep deprivation, such as heart disease, may not go away and may require long-term medical treatment.

Get the word of drug information

In addition to the risk of death due to rare diseases that cause extreme sleep deprivation, lack of sleep can lead to accidents or fatal injuries. Chronic sleep deprivation can also contribute to premature death, increasing the risk of chronic disease. Lack of sleep is a problem that you should take seriously. If you're not getting enough sleep, talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve it.

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