The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation

Stage 2: After 36 hours

When you miss 36 hours of sleep, your symptoms become more intense. You’ll have an overwhelming urge to sleep.

You may start to have microsleeps, or brief periods of sleep, without realizing it. A microsleep usually lasts up to 30 seconds.

Different parts of your brain will have a hard time communicating with each other. This severely impairs your cognitive performance, causing symptoms like:

  • impaired memory
  • difficulty learning new information
  • behavioral changes
  • impaired decision-making
  • difficulty processing social cues
  • slow reaction time
  • increased errors

You’re also more likely to experience physical effects like:

  • increased appetite
  • increased inflammation
  • impaired immune function
  • extreme fatigue

Stage 3: After 48 hours

Missing sleep for 48 hours is known as extreme sleep deprivation. At this point, it’s even harder to stay awake. You’re more likely to have microsleeps.

You might even begin to hallucinate. This occurs when you see, hear, or feel things that aren’t actually there.

Other possible effects include:

  • depersonalization
  • anxiety
  • heightened stress levels
  • increased irritability
  • extreme fatigue

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