SCIENCE
09/24/2013 07:50 am ET

What If You Stopped Sleeping? New Video Explains Health Effects Of Prolonged Sleeplessness

Doctors will tell you that not getting the recommended six to eight hours of shut-eye each night is not good for you, but what would happen if you stopped sleeping completely?

A new video from the popular YouTube series AsapSCIENCE answers that question -- starting with how your body would respond the first sleepless night and then what would happen after nearly two weeks of no sleep. Check out the video above.

It turns out that after one night without sleep, the so-called mesolimbic dopamine system of the brain becomes stimulated. There's an increase in the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to the brain's reward and pleasure centers. That brings extra energy and motivation -- the body's attempt to ward off fatigue.

"Sounds appealing, but it's a slippery slope," AsapSCIENCE co-creator Mitchell Moffit says in the video. Because after that first night, brain and body eventually succumb to exhaustion. In fact, three days of sleeplessness can trigger hallucinations. Not good.

What's the longest anyone has stayed awake continuously? Eleven days. And going that long without sleep brought not only impaired concentration, but also irritability and problems with perception.

Surprisingly, going that long without sleep didn't cause any long-term health problems, according to the video.

"My assumption would have been major brain damage, or other physiological problems that would have been lasting," Moffit told The Huffington Post. "Pretty crazy that they went back to normal after a few days!"

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