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The Effects of Staying Awake for 24 Hours or More

woman struggles with insomnia

While a large portion of the population suffers from sleep-related issues and may not consistently sleep the recommended seven to eight hours per night, some people push sleep deprivation to the limit by avoiding sleep for more than 24 hours.  This can happen when a student is attempting to study all night for an exam, as a result of drug use, or due to severe mental health issues. Sleep deprivation can be extremely debilitating and lead to several physical and mental health problems.

Reduced Brain Function

The CDC states that going without sleep for over 24 hours impairs judgment and motor skills in a manner equivalent to a blood-alcohol level of .10.  This means that sleep deprivation alone can severely impair your ability to drive a car, and will likely result in a temporary emotional imbalance. This is especially true when a lack of sleep is combined with drug or alcohol use.  Experts agree that many of the symptoms associated with sleep deprivation occur because the brain shuts down unnecessary activity to conserve energy. This can result in short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating. People that have gone without sleep for 24 hours or more may also become extremely irritable, as they will lack the cognitive ability to employ rational reactions to people and events.

Quick and Serious Effects

In just 24 hours, a lack of sleep can lead to hormonal changes that affect the immune system and metabolism.  If an individual routinely goes over 24 hours without sleep, due to an addiction, severe insomnia, or mental illness, they are at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and depression.  Stimulant drugs such as cocaine can cause users to go prolonged periods of time without sleep, as can prescription diet pills. An inability to sleep is also associated with anxiety and depression and subsequently may be a symptom of a serious but treatable mental illness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental illness, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.