The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

5 Nights Without Sleep

by Christina

Hi, I'm a 19 year-old college student and I haven't gotten a full nights sleep in 5 nights and afraid something is wrong. The most sleep I've gotten is about 5 1/2 hours. I try to go to bed around the same time every night, and I make sure to stay away from caffeine, relax, and get my body ready for sleep. The problem is nothing seems to work! When I try to sleep, I lie in bed and toss and turn, and before I know it 2 hours have passed. I usually get out of bed, turn on the lights and continue reading, but it seems like my body won't let me relax.

When I can't sleep, I get very hot and sweaty, my heart starts beating really fast, and I kind of go into a panic mode. I do have moderate generalized anxiety disorder, but this is the first time I've had a problem like this. During the day I'm starting to have mood swings, feel depressed, and can't think straight. I am also getting severe headaches. I don't want to take a sleeping pill because I'm afraid I'll get addicted. Please help!!!

Kevin: Hey Christina, sorry about your sleep troubles. The idea that sleeping pills are addictive is more of a myth than a reality at this point in medicine. The mainstream sleeping pills are actually extremely non-addictive and safe as long as you don't abuse them, just like most other medicines.

Dr. Dement often equates having a sleeping pill in the medicine cabinet with having a fire extinguisher. You don't need it every day by any means, but in the case of a sleep emergency (any situation that's going to severely compromise your alertness the next day) it's there for you to utilize and quell the issue.

For myself, if it's coming down to another night of not sleeping well or taking a sleeping pill, I'm going to call on the power of modern medicine to help save my productivity and mood for the days to come.

All the best,

(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

Comments for 5 Nights Without Sleep

Click here to add your own comments

Aug 22, 2011
Hot summer nights
by: Hawkmoon

Interesting point you made of being hot and sweaty when you can't sleep. Did you try to take cold shower before going to bed? Cooling down your body could help a lot, especially in this hot summer period because body likes to have good conditions in order to relax completely. Other thing to consider could be some problem that is on your mind that prevents you from having normal sleep.

Oct 04, 2011
almost same
by: Anton (Jordan)

well am a 19 year old guy , studies CS in GJU \ Jordan
i havent got a full sleep for 4 days
its now actually 4 am in here , which means that i have to wake up after 2 hours and go to the university
but i still cant sleep
i think a lot , espically in the last weak ,i think am in love with a girl but she does not know that and i know that she thinks of me as a brother. which makes me think all the day and night and i cant sleep
i do really wish to sleep , at least to relax a bit
any ideas ?

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to "I Can't Sleep!" Stories.

Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.