I once went five days without any sleep. Is that harmful?

SarahEllard

Registered Member
Context: Had a bad cold and my nose was blocked. I've never slept with a blocked nose in my life. The moment you fall asleep your jaw muscles relax causing your mouth to automatically shut and since my nose was blocked it jolted me awake.

I can breathe through my mouth just fine when I'm awake, since I can voluntarily use my jaw muscles to keep my mouth open and prevent it from closing. Honestly the feeling of being so tired but it being literally impossible to sleep scares me a lot, I'm so paranoid around people with colds that my average time between getting colds is years. I still wear a mask everywhere I can and constantly sanitize my hands after touching anything.

I have Zopiclone to help me sleep but I didn't want to take the sleeping pills since I knew that as soon as I fell asleep my jaw muscles would relax causing my mouth to automatically close shut and the sleeping pills might've stop me from waking up when I can't breathe.I have this fear at the back of my mind that one day I'll get some disease that will cause my nose to be blocked longer than five days, maybe even weeks or months, and I'll end up dying from a lack of sleep as I haven't slept at all for weeks/months. I've had actual nightmares about that scenario several times.
 
Insomnia is one of those vicious cycles - you want to sleep, you’re incredibly fatigued but you’re too panicked that you will wake up, that you don’t sleep at all. I don’t think any permanent harm can come from missing sleep for a few nights or even a few weeks. But, habitual lack of sleep, for longer than a few weeks, could mean the sign of an underlying illness.

After five days of no sleep though, one’s motor skills and memory starts to diminish, and it wouldn’t be good for say a surgeon to go for days without quality sleep. I’ve read that some people thrive on very little sleep (less than four hours) but that’s not the norm.
 
Context: Had a bad cold and my nose was blocked. I've never slept with a blocked nose in my life. The moment you fall asleep your jaw muscles relax causing your mouth to automatically shut and since my nose was blocked it jolted me awake.

I can breathe through my mouth just fine when I'm awake, since I can voluntarily use my jaw muscles to keep my mouth open and prevent it from closing. Honestly the feeling of being so tired but it being literally impossible to sleep scares me a lot, I'm so paranoid around people with colds that my average time between getting colds is years. I still wear a mask everywhere I can and constantly sanitize my hands after touching anything.

I have Zopiclone to help me sleep but I didn't want to take the sleeping pills since I knew that as soon as I fell asleep my jaw muscles would relax causing my mouth to automatically close shut and the sleeping pills might've stop me from waking up when I can't breathe.I have this fear at the back of my mind that one day I'll get some disease that will cause my nose to be blocked longer than five days, maybe even weeks or months, and I'll end up dying from a lack of sleep as I haven't slept at all for weeks/months. I've had actual nightmares about that scenario several times.

I would speak to your GP again
Lack of sleep is bad for your physical and mental health.
 
This is utter rubbish. Your mouth does not close when your muscles relax. It opens. That is why the mouth falls open when someone dies.
 
True, the breathing obstruction is doubtfully from a closed mouth and surely from obstructive sleep apnea. That's when your tongue falls back in your throat and blocks your airway.

Although the OP is still wise, in my opinion, to avoid the sleeping pills.

The OP should find some relief by lying on their side, so that heir mouth will stay open, instead of on their back.
 
Context: Had a bad cold and my nose was blocked. I've never slept with a blocked nose in my life. The moment you fall asleep your jaw muscles relax causing your mouth to automatically shut and since my nose was blocked it jolted me awake.
Fortunately both my wife and I can sleep when our noses are blocked, like most humans.
 
Context: Had a bad cold and my nose was blocked. I've never slept with a blocked nose in my life. The moment you fall asleep your jaw muscles relax causing your mouth to automatically shut and since my nose was blocked it jolted me awake.
As others have said, this is not true regarding your jaw muscles.. The relaxation of jaw muscles as we sleep has a tendency to result in jaws widening, not to "automatically shut".

Your best bet would be to discuss this with your doctor, though. You might also benefit from talking to a therapist to reduce your apparent anxiety/fear of the situation you describe. Which may allow you to then sleep better.

To answer the title's question: cognitivie performance starts dropping after about 16 hours of being awake. Not always noticeably so, especially if offset by adrenaline etc.
After 3 days of sleep deprivation, hallucinations (visual and/or auditory) are not uncommon. You'll certainly be far more irritable It's already not healthy. The immune system will almost certainly have taken a significant hit.
After 4 days you might even start suffering psychosis as a result, where you'll struggle to interpret reality correctly. The body should already be trying to get microsleeps to try to minimise the effects.
The chances and severity of these things then just increase with the longer the body is deprived.
So, yeah, 5 days is not healthy.

The longest known time of sleep deprivation has been just over 11 days, apparently.
 
i have done 8 days no sleep
by the 6th day i was in full on hallucinations
ended up in hospital for a week for observation & lots of sleep.

i am surprised you have never heard of sinus decongestant nasal spray
i would highly recommend it & it comes in different brands
 
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