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How long can a person go with no or little sleep?


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Where I volunteer people sometimes talk about symptoms they are having. One woman said she didn't sleep for years. The woman I was working with told her she had gone days without any sleep, and the woman insisted she didn't sleep for years, I know that can't be possible, but can you go long periods with little sleep if you are manic?

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Unless she has fatal familial insomnia, I don't see how she could possibly be telling the truth. And even then, she would only have lived a little over a year and a half with no sleep, and would be completely out of it and develop dementia and become completely unresponsive.

 

During my first psychotic manic break, I didn't sleep for around 10-12 days (not really sure, because that time period is a blur when I try to remember), and by the time I ended up in the ER I was completely psychotic, hearing voices constantly and had no clue who or where I was. I don't have a good recollection of it at all, but have pieced some things together from what people told me afterwards. So I'd say people in mania can probably go pretty long without sleeping at all, but it won't end well.

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but can you go long periods with little sleep if you are manic?

 

I can.  I used to be awake for at least 3-4 days at a time, losing lots of time.  At one point, I "lost" a week of time ... I had been awake for awhile, then fell asleep.  Woke up and I realized it was a week later, my birthday.  All the time I was awake kind of ran together, and it seemed like one long day.

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I swear some nites I get no sleep and have gone about 3 days like that. My doc told me it's very unlikely I actually went with absolutely NO SLEEP zero sleep. Some times we fall in a in between state and not aware of it and swear we are still awake, no not sleep paralysis but close. Some nites I swear I got no sleep yet I'm ok during the day as if I got 4 hours sleep, that is my minimum. 

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I go 48 hours sans sleep at some point pretty much every 1 to 2 weeks. Sucks but I have been this way for many years and  medication doesn't really help the situation. I try to physically exhaust myself and this seems to help at times. Insomnia runs in my family for sure.

Edited by hamster
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I sleep on & off throughout the night, with those hours being very little of quality. So with having sleep like that for several weeks, I have been having an increased amount of both seizures & crazees (which includes everything from confusion & blacking out, to odd beliefs & random emotional breakdowns).

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Bear in mind, it's a common thing for someone to say they haven't slept at all when what they mean is that they haven't 'felt' as if they have slept. Dream and sleep states can vary and the experience of falling asleep can happen differently for people. I can believe that people with untreated mania can sustain activity (and their health suffer for it) but most people have some kind of rest activity after a while, the body has it's own system for releasing the pressure constant wakefullness has. Sleep is a phase of healing and restoring cell function and from a a mental health POV, resetting and processing sensory and memory activity. It's something all humans need and sleep deprivation is a way to destroy health enough to induce psychosis, illness or death.

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I was kept awake for around a week.  The hour I was given to sleep never happened.  I kept staring at the clock.   I would say that this will make anyone psycho.   I'm not violent but near the end of this I tracked down the genius that was putting me on watch all night every night and told him how I was going to tear off one of his arms and beat him to death with it.  Without that much sleep my vision went all screwy.  Flashes of light on the outsides of my vision.

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