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Lack of sleep can lead to a series of dangerous symptoms, including cognitive loss and anxiety.
- Loss of sleep has never killed anyone, but some deaths are associated with prolonged sleep deprivation.
- Researchers who studied sleep deprivation in rats found that none of the rats survived for more than 32 days.
- The National Sleep Foundation says adults need to sleep at least seven hours a day.
Lack of sleep can make people unhappy, irritable, and more susceptible to cold, but there is no evidence that sleep deprivation has ever killed anyone.
However, prolonged exhaustion is cited as a factor in the death of many other healthy people.
In 2012, for example, a Chinese man stayed for 11 consecutive nights to watch all the football matches in the European Championship. The 26-year-old died in his sleep shortly thereafter, and doctors said the cause was a combination of sleep, alcohol, and tobacco deprivation.
Randy Gardner beat the record to stay awake in 1964, turning him into the Guinness Book of Records. Gardner, after 17 years of age, was for 11 days and 25 minutes. Although he does not experience physical symptoms as soon as possible, he suffers from insomnia for years.
Many people have tried to break the record ever since, but the Guinness Book of Records has ceased to consider trying because sleep deprivation can be dangerous.
Loss of sleep can lead to a long list of symptoms. Those who sleep less than seven hours a night may experience symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and sleep deprivation is associated with obesity, diabetes, poor decision-making, and reduced concentration.
The University of California-Berkeley neurologist Matthew Walker said in a previous interview with Business Insider that sleeplessness may also have a negative impact on cardiovascular health. In the spring, when everyone loses one hour of sleep, the number of heart attacks increases by 24% the next day, he said.
Some medical disorders can also cause sleep deprivation. In France, researchers have studied a 27-year-old man with Morvan's syndrome that causes muscle twitching, weight loss, hallucinations, pain and sleep deprivation. A learned American said the 27-year-old had "almost no sleep" for several months in a row. Although he does not feel tired or anxious, the person experiences hallucinations and pain every night between 20 and 60 minutes.
Morvan's syndrome can cause such episodes by turning on and off some nerve cells. There is very little data on the state – only 14 have been published since 2011.
Read more: 14 scientifically-supported ways to sleep better
Experiments on animals suggest that sleep deprivation may eventually lead to death. In the 1980s, researcher Alan Rechachfen engaged in rat experiment at the University of Chicago and found that all animals died from the 32nd day without sleep.
Although researchers did not agree with the cause of death, Slate said, all options were sleep deprivation. Some researchers claim that the rat immune system fails and allows bacteria to kill rats. Others believe that sleep deprivation has led to fatal brain damage, while a third theory claims that rat body temperature has become so low that they have died of hypothermia.
Regardless of the reason, researchers believe that prolonged sleep deprivation causes so severe symptoms that rats can not survive. In humans, researchers have seen serious psychological effects such as hallucinations, as the study has not gone through more than a few days of sleep deprivation.
The latest guidelines for the National Sleep Program, issued in 2015, warn not to ignore the sleep recommendations. Guidelines that vary by age say adults need to sleep between seven and nine hours a night to avoid health problems.
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