Give Now

A Moment of Science

Breaking The World Record For Not Sleeping

How long do you think is the world record for going without sleep? (Hint: It's a really, really long time.)

Macro photo of a person's light blue eye

Photo: e_monk (flickr)

Due to health concerns, the Guinness Book of World Records no longer accepts sleep deprivation record attempts.

Astonishingly, the world record for staying awake is around eleven days. People have been known to stay awake between eight and ten days in carefully monitored experiments. As you might expect, however, the longer they stayed awake, the harder it was for them to concentrate and engage in higher mental processes.

One question scientists grapple with when studying sleep is exactly how to define what it means to be awake. A long time without sleep can result in hallucinations and the loss of cognitive and motor functions. This is because our brains grab sleep automatically when we get tired enough.

Hallucinations are actually bits of dreaming and are part of brief episodes of sleeping known as microsleep. Microsleep, by the way, is one of the major unrecognized causes of auto accidents. However, if we don’t count these, there are no recorded cases of people dying due to sleep deprivation itself. Ultimately, scientists don’t know exactly how long humans can stay awake and how that affects the body.

Read More:

  • FrankieFashion2010

    I Want to Beat The Record Cuz I Stay Up All The Time So Where Would I Send It To?

  • FrankieZFashion

    I Want to Beat The Record Cuz I Stay Up All The Time So Where Would I Send It To?

  • benrogers

    I have been awake for 8 days straight before but after 5 days it was bad I was getting worse and worse co-ordination and at the end of the 7th day I could hardly walk at all or even move. It was well bad. I didn't try to sleep until I had litterally no choice because due to voices telling me I'd die if I went to sleep.

    I do not recomend staying awake for this time unless you are closely monitored which I wasn't as you might even die.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science