General Question

College_girl's avatar

Almost 48 hours with no sleep and I'm getting worried?

Asked by College_girl (917points) February 24th, 2012

So in about 8 hours I will have gone about 48 hours with literally no sleep. Not a few hours here and there. NO sleep. I was reading up on sleep deprivation online and from the things I’ve read I’m starting to worry. Now obviously you can’t trust everything on the internet, but there have been reoccurring statements that have me nervous. It seemed that after 72 hours of no sleep people start to hallucinate (I believe it’s because you’re body needs REM and it is doing this while you are awake or something). Is this true?

I will be seeing my psychologist on Tuesday and will definitely talk to him about this. I have always had insomnia and I had my tonsils out and my septum fixed to lessen my sleep apnea, but this is the longest I’ve gone without sleep and I still feel wide awake.

I’ve also tried to limit my electronic stimulation, especially before bed, but nothing is working. Only reason I’m on this is because I need some answers.

Am I going to hallucinate? Or end up in the hospital because my immune system is decreasing? Or even just pass out?

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61 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

Why not take a tylenol and lay down in the dark, jeesus. Why would you stay up this long?

XOIIO's avatar

And yes, people do hallucinate, very severely in fact.

Then they die.

College_girl's avatar

It’s not like I want to. I’ve tried everything. I even had percocet from my last surgery that I used and I just can’t fall asleep. I do want to sleep though

XOIIO's avatar

Well then lay down with your eyes closed, a pillow over the top of your head and just wait, thats what I have to do every night,

College_girl's avatar

I’ve tried it all

XOIIO's avatar

Hold your breath?

Really just laying there not doing anything is best, fi you don’t sleep at least you do get some energy back.

sliceswiththings's avatar

@XOIIO Obviously she can’t sleep, why not try a different approach to answering this?

It’s good that you’re seeing your psychologist. My boyfriend had bad insomnia last summer, it’s tough. In his case, it was caused by stress since he’s the boss of his company and had a lot that needed to get done. The electronics thing is good, also quit caffeine! In general, avoid putting anything in your body before bed since you can’t quite fully relax while you’re digesting, and if you miraculously do fall asleep you don’t want to be awakened by a beckoning bladder!

What finally helped my guy was marijuana and lots of stretching and yoga. The nights he smoked/ingested before bed, he was able to fall asleep, even if it didn’t last all night (I say ingested because he spared his lungs by making a batch of weed butter, used to make brownies and such, then just ate a bit in a teaspoon of honey).

Also, having stretching/breathing/meditation sessions throughout the day (morning, lunch, and bedtime) helped a lot.

The last thing I recommend is trying to fall asleep without actually trying to fall asleep. So not just “laying there not doing anything.” That’s when you’ll get frustrated about not sleeping, which will just stimulate you further. Back in your days of sleeping did you fall asleep during movies? Cuddle up on the sofa with a blanket and put a long boring movie on. Stay on the sofa! In general, sometimes a change of scenery does help; I’ve passed nights on the sofa during periods of insomnia.

Just kidding, THIS is the last thing: if it is stress/worry that’s keeping you up, try this technique when you’re trying to sleep: focus on something that worrying you. Then blow it out of your brain like extinguishing a fire. I will actually make a blowing sound when I do it. That thought is hereby banished. Do it with as many stressful thoughts as you have. Be diligent about not letting them back in! Sounds crazy, but you have more control than you think.

Similarly, I’ve noticed that I can pinpoint what part of my brain is activated when my mind is racing. When I remind myself to forgot those things and clear my mind, I can actually feel the “cursor” in my brain slide to the front, right to the top of my forehead. Bring your mind back to the present, and I bet you’ll notice this sensation. Try to keep it there (I like the computer cursor metaphor), and focus on breathing.

I know this doesn’t answer the question about what will happen to you without sleep, but I hope it helps!

jazmina88's avatar

valeria, melatonin

hot tea….

tylenol PM

If you dont relax and keep on freaking out, the outcome will not be good.
So breathe deep, relax, get a book and pass out

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

In similar circumstances, a shot of liquor and masturbation always knocks me out.

College_girl's avatar

@sliceswiththings I’ve actually tried weed once and it does nothing for me. Plus the long term side effects are not worth it. I have been under a lot of stress with school lately. Midterms and all. I also dropped a class so maybe that will help ease the stress.

jazmina88's avatar


sliceswiththings's avatar

@College_girl Fair enough, also I forgot that when you smoke you get super thirsty! Then you have to pee!!

@Imadethisupwithnoforethought Masturbation’s a good one. Definitely give it a chance! Although use an object if you’re a tough nut to crack; if you have to work hard for it and you’re using your hand, the “exercise” of it will totally stimulate your brain! Learned that the hard way in my last bout of insomnia :)

AshlynM's avatar

I’m no doctor so I can only offer suggestions.

Take a warm bath.

Take half a sleeping pill.

Even though it may sound disgusting, try a glass of warm milk. It’s supposed to soothe your nervous system and help you relax.

Going too long without sleep isn’t healthy. It can lead to a variety of health problems, such as possible hallucinations, like you said. Do busy work during the day to get you as exhausted as possible so you’ll WANT to just fall into bed.

College_girl's avatar

Well all of a sudden I feel reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally tired. Maybe it’s all this talk about sleep. It’s a start in the right direction eh?

tom_g's avatar

I suffer from insomnia frequently. While it’s no fun, it’s not going to kill you. You will fall asleep. Here’s something I read that seems to help me lately: When you go to lie down in bed, only do so when you are relaxed, tired, and are prepared to fall asleep. If you find that you are still there in bed and can’t sleep after 10 minutes, get up and do stuff. Once you feel you can’t stand it any longer, and you just need to lie down, go back to bed and repeat.

Also, make sure when you get up to do stuff (read or whatever) that you don’t lie down on the couch. Only allow yourself to lie down when you are really going to fall asleep.
Good luck. Hopefully, you won’t read this for a long time because you’re already asleep.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve struggled with sleeping for a long time. For me it’s hard to shut my mind up long enough to start to drift off and it sounds like that’s the problem you’re having as well.

What works for me is to distract myself with something that will hold my attention but isn’t necessarily enthralling. So things like a non-fiction book, news websites, or the television (soccer has magical properties to put you to sleep)...

It keeps me from thinking about all the things I need to do and just lets me drift off enough to get things started.

filmfann's avatar

Don’t worry about Hallucinations. I had really bad insomnia one summer, and while I felt terrible, I didn’t have hallucinations.
If nothing else works, try reading some of dalepetrie’s responses here.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’ve been up before for 48+ hours straight, but that was by necessity, not inability to sleep. Nearly everyone has occasional sleepless nights, and I suppose they could occur serially, too. I wouldn’t worry about this.

I mean, really, I wouldn’t worry if you can possibly avoid it. Worry is one of the things that can lead to sleeplessness.

How to avoid worry? Ah, that’s another whole question.

But I can tell you from experience that 48+ hours without sleep will only make you… tired. Eventually. I would strongly recommend not driving or operating machinery, because when the tired takes over, it will take over.

snowberry's avatar

Here’s something that works for me when I can’t sleep. I turn the TV on to a boring infomercial or a boring movie. I turn the volume down so low I have to concentrate to understand what’s being said, and I close my eyes and cover my head (to prevent being stimulated by the light from the TV. Doing this must make my brain tired, or something, because It worked every time for me. However, I don’t have insomnia like you do. Still, it’s worth a try.

Let us know how it goes.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I like the radio on low, just enough to hear, and I clear thoughts out of my head as I breathe. Relax and don’t think of the time or a need to sleep.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have chronic insomnia.

I highly recommend you start taking Melatonin prior to be, or ask your psychologist to put you on a low dose antidepressant to be taken prior to bed.

For now, relax. Have something warm to drink. Warm milk & honey is a good idea. A small carb snack may also help.

Then put on some sort of white noise, or a soft CD or boring TV and just allow yourself to relax.

Do not allow the mind chatter to take over. You’ll be fine. You’ll fall asleep soon.

CaptainHarley's avatar


At various locations around the Country there are places called “Sleep Labs,” as well as by other names. These are places that deal primarily with what you describe: sleep deprivation. Get your doctor to refer you to one of these. Perhaps they can help.

muppetish's avatar

I had chronic insomnia last summer and fall – it was no picnic.

In addition to what many others have told you: unplug your clock. Switch off your phone. Don’t check what time it is. One of the things that ended up keeping me awake, was that I kept checking what time it was and thinking about much sleep I was losing. Don’t think about how you’re still awake. Just try to keep your mind clear.

College_girl's avatar

Thank you everyone. I think I got about three hours of sleep. Will that at least help a little or will I still hallucinate?

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s unlikely you’ll hallucinate if you’ve been getting SOME sleep. I would still see if my doctor would give me a referral to a “sleep center” somewhere.

blueiiznh's avatar

I hope the dr visit comes quickly with some sleep in between. Try doing whatever you can to shut your mind off. I have never had insomnia so I can’t help in that regard, but I have gone that long and further without sleep as I am a high energy person.
Try to find some way to get yourself into a schedule. Condition your mind and body to a rhythm that can help.

nikipedia's avatar

You said you took a percocet, but have you tried an actual sleeping pill? If you don’t have a prescription, benadryl works pretty well for me.

Like others have said, I find that having something to distract my mind can help, but the light from TV or a computer can be counterproductive. Something like a podcast or radio show can be helpful.

College_girl's avatar

I used to take clonodine (spelling?) because I take concerta for my ADHD. I’ll ask my psychiatrist next time I see him if he thinks I should get back on that

nikipedia's avatar

Concerta is a very strong stimulant; it could definitely be keeping you up.

Clonidine is not a sleeping pill. If insomnia is an ongoing problem you might want to talk to your doctor about getting something like ambien.

gailcalled's avatar

Did anyone mention exercise or have I been speed-reading?

How about galloping around the house for a while or running up and down stairs?

lemming's avatar

Focus on getting cosy and relaxed and if you’re not asleep in around twenty minutes get up for a while and do something relaxing. Maybe try an aromatherapy bath or some sleep inducing aromatherapy oils on your pillow.

Anymore keep your getting up time as constant as possible no matter how tired you are..get sunlight first thing as this sets your carcadian rhythem and avoid caffeine and maybe also sugar after noon.

Nullo's avatar

Pile all of your blankets together (throw a dog in there, if you have one) and then turn off the heat. Sit around for a few hours or so, or do chores or something equally light. Then have a drink and crawl under the blankets. If you sleep better with sounds, maybe turn on a fan or put on some soft violin music.

College_girl's avatar

I’m actually so exhausted today I feel like sleeping for a week….

Nullo's avatar

Do it! I reckon you need a few zs. Go to bed, come back to us when you wake up. :D

College_girl's avatar

I will be sleeping after my doctor appointment. I’ve told everyone on my facebook too not to text or call me :)

wundayatta's avatar

This is a common symptom of bipolar disorder. You stay awake for days at a time, or sleeping only a few hours a night for long periods of time.

It is good you will be seeing a psychiatrist. Ask him or her about bipolar disorder. Or look it up and read about the other symptoms, in case you want to learn more about the diagnosis and whether you might fit it before you go.

Have you felt any diminution of your mental abilities due to lack of sleep? Or do you feel as smart as ever? Maybe even smarter than ever?

College_girl's avatar

I do take mood stabilizers but have never been diagnosed as bipolar. I’ll look into it. And I haven’t really noticed any diminution of it, nor gain, which I thought was weird

blueiiznh's avatar

@wundayatta Yes insomnia is a common feature of biploar, but so is depression and lack of focus.

@College_girl Here are a few important links related to insomnia that you may have already looked at. Good luck.

WebMD Insomnia
Mayo Clinic Insomnia

jazmina88's avatar

I hate to say this, but get off the internet when you are trying to sleep. You have to slow down your brain waves. Not stimulate them.

Buttonstc's avatar

If you’re on medication for ADHD, its no small wonder you cant sleep. This is one of the most common side effect with these types of meds.

Hopefully your Dr. can find a drug that doesn’t stimulate you as much.

But if you do nothing else, stop compulsively reading about all the possible dire consequences that could occur after X amount. of no sleep. It just creates more anxiety which adds more stress. STOP READING ABOUT IT.

Ill second the suggestion on Benadryl. Its a single ingredient product thats been around for ages and has a wide margin of safety. Its not a sleeping med that one can become addicted to since its not really a sleeping med, per se. . Its basically an antihistamine with drowsiness as a side effect. Take two 25 mg. tablets and that does it for most people.

College_girl's avatar

Well, I just woke up. Still tired, but I’m feeling MUCH better :D I will try everyone’s suggestions (well most of them) and see what works the best. I think it was the reassurence and knowing other ways of getting to sleep. Thank you all! Sweet dreams! :D

King_Pariah's avatar

Minus Micro-Naps I once stayed awake for a month, not a good time.

What finally knocked me out for a good night’s (weekend’s is more like it) sleep was a combo of being sick, taking medicine for being sick, some sleep pills, and a concussion from boxing. Not recommended.

XOIIO's avatar

@King_Pariah Just because of not being able to sleep, or was there something you were doing? That sounds like hell.

King_Pariah's avatar

@XOIIO it was stress, guilt, and paranoia induced

gorillapaws's avatar

Concerta may definitely be the primary culprit here. I’ve been on that in the past, and it worked well for me with regards to helping me focus and be productive, but the side effects were ultimately too difficult to manage. Perhaps your dosage needs to be adjusted? I would definitely recommend discussing this with your doctor.

I don’t know if this is recommended for insomnia or not, but vigorous exercise (a good while before your bedtime) can wear you out and make it easier to sleep. Also, reading things that are totally boring/not interesting can do the trick.

XOIIO's avatar

@King_Pariah That sucks.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite

oh shit, sorry

At least it isn’t monsters in the closet, you know?

crap, I did it again

MadisonPaige's avatar

I used to have insomnia. When I did sleep I had horrible nightmares. But it’s weird because if I was travelling, I could sleep away from home in hotels. Sometimes, I’d take a room at a local motel once in a while so I could sleep. This isn’t a practical solution, and won’t work for you since my situation was unique to me. But I just thought I’d share.

College_girl's avatar

I’ve had nightmares almost all my life. I pretty much just learned how to control them, most of them, about 4 years ago

HungryGuy's avatar

There’s a technique called lucid dreaming in which you can be “awake” in your dreams and take take conscious control of your dreams. It takes some practice to do, but I can do it periodically.

College_girl's avatar

So I still am having trouble falling asleep, but I AM getting some sleep. Not enough obviously but I’m doing better :)

blueiiznh's avatar

@College_girl It will take some time. Give it as much time getting back as it took getting there.

College_girl's avatar

Well its a good thing I’m back home for a week on break :)

courtney1946's avatar

I had insomnia a few years back. Doctors finally figured out I had an overactive thyroid and they prescribed medication that controlled it. A simple blood test told the story, but they initially thought it was due to other problems.

College_girl's avatar

Well everyone. I don’t know how I did it but last night I went to bed at 7pm and woke up today at almost 9am!!! Feeling much better!!!!!!

carolinamoonbeam's avatar

I have suffered 7 years of insomnia and just recently its got more than I can bear. Its odd when people continually say ” just relax, shut your eyes and fall asleep”. What they cannot understand is that when an insomniac does this the falling asleep just doesn’t happen. I have tried all the medications and relaxation cd’s, isochronic tones, sleeping pills etc and for me there doesn’t seem to be a cure. Even after 2 or 3 nights of maybe just a couple of hours sleep I still cannot fall asleep. I’ve become depressed and desperate and only last week told my partner that I dont want to live any more – not like this. It really is torture.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther, @carolinamoonbeam.

That’s a hell of a thing. Have you tried any of the medically-run professional and dedicated sleep clinics around the country?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
mroxidizer's avatar

I don’t know if this thread is old. Anyway, I have been 72 hours of no sleep, I have no hallucinate but there are chances. Good news is you won’t die of it the persn above saying you will die is very irresponsable). But, you will need to avoid driving until you sleep. I have a problem that you don’t hav, I have big tolerance to sleeping pills, even xanax dont do nothing on me. What i do (which I hate) is taking Benadryl, I hate that sensation but at leats gave me 4 hours of sleep, right now I m on a 48 hours too, and I have a college test tomorrow. People don’t understand, we do everything suggested like hot baths, cleaned bed, etc and nothing…
After 48 hours and you still can not sleep go to a doctor and discuss about it, if you dont have tolerance ‘ambien’ should work. Don’t take percocet, or weed, these drugs will make you feel euphoric, and you won’t sleep….(at least thats what they do to me)
Try real sleep medication by a doctor. Melatonin seems to work for some, if not, watch a movie in the bed, with a cup of tea, chamomie, maybe it works for you…
I suggest if has been 48 hours, please don’t drive, go to a doctor.. and, importan: no, nobody dies from insomnia at least they are driving or using heavy machinery…
I have try real Kava powder, at first I felt drunk but then a couple of use i start to feel asleep, and is cheap on ebay, etc…...

gailcalled's avatar

^^ Question asked in Feb. 2012.

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