Sleeping After Being Awake for 24+ Hours

I don’t know if this is normal or not but any time I am awake for close to or over 24 hours, I have trouble getting a full night’s sleep when I finally go to bed.

Yesterday, in an attempt to get my wildly fluctuating sleep schedule under control, I thought I would try a hard reboot and stay up for thirty hours (I only lasted 26) and, hopefully, sleep the night through to wake up at a reasonable hour the next morning. Nope. Didn’t happen.

Instead, after going to bed at 5:00pm, I woke up at 8:00pm feeling mostly refreshed but I knew if I just stayed in bed, I’d fall asleep pretty quickly again and did but woke up only six hours later at 2:00am feeling completely recharged.

Why is that? I pushed my body to its limits and it should have needed a longer rest to get back to normal but instead, rejuvenated itself in even less time than normal. And this happens almost every time I do this. You’d think I’d’ve learned by now but I keep hoping that the last time was … well, the *last *time.

Qadgop? Anyone?

I have no medical training, but IME, you don’t need to “catch up” on lost sleep. I’ve stayed up for very long periods (50+ hours) on several occasions and in each case I slept on a normal 5-6 hours to recover. The times I’ve needed more sleep have been when I was physically exhausted, not just mentally taxed from being awake too long. After a long climb or a multi-day sailing race where I’ve been not only sleep deprived but physically pushing the limits, I might sleep for 12-14 hours as my body recovered. But if I’m just awake for a similar period working or partying, the sleep required to recover is just a normal cycle.

Assuming that’s true, and I have no reason to believe otherwise… it makes sense, that still doesn’t explain why on a normal day I sleep eight to ten hours and wake up groggy and out of it but on the occasions talked about in the OP, I generally wake up after four to six feeling like I’ve had the best sleep ever.

I think you’ve answered your own question then. The quality of the sleep that you get after being awake for a long time is probably much better than the eight to ten hours you have on a normal night.
I think the general medical advice for improving the sleep that you do have is limiting alcohol, caffeine and getting lots of exercise.
I think I’d rather feel tired!!

It’s true that your body doesn’t have to totally catch up on “sleep” It does, however have to catch up on a cycle of sleep called REM sleep. During a normal sleep cycle your body goes in and out of REM sleep several times during the night. If you have stayed up for an extended period of time your body simply passes into REM sleep much quicker and stays in it for longer during the night. Studies have indicated that your body eventually makes up for all REM sleep that has been lost.

I don’t know if it’s just me but I do “catch up” on sleep if I’m awake for super-long periods of time. I was up 52 hours (my record at 16 years old). I had low level hallucinations, saw mostly grey shades in low light etc.

When I went to bed, I slept for 14 hours straight. I thought I slept 2 hours (from 8 to 10 pm).

I usually sleep for 12 hours+ if I’m terribly physically exhausted. Like after 10 hours of snowboarding or 6 hours of straight paintball.

That makes sense because your body is just catching up on REM sleep.

This about it this way…if you wake up several times during the night you feel groggy or tired the next day. This isn’t because you’ve lost sleep (at most only a few minutes during the duration of the night) it’s because your REM sleep has been interrupted and your body is letting you know about it.

I always sleep terribly if I have to stay awake for long periods of time. I put in a 20 hour work day a couple of weeks ago and when I got home I was exhausted. I had the worst night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.

Your terrible night’s sleep is because you messed with your natural Circadian rhythms. Normally, they “slow down” at night and you fall asleep. However since you worked such a long day they never slowed down, just stayed at a daytime level. When you were ready to go to bed they were probably starting to enter their normal daytime cycle. Since your body thought you should be awake it didn’t let you sleep well. This is what gives most new nightshift workers trouble until their bodies get used to it after several weeks.