Sometimes it's difficult falling asleep for almost an entire night. You might feel like getting up and being productive instead, or 'pull an all-nighter'.

Or you can try to simply lay in bed to relax and rest, even though sleep does not kick in. In this situation, you may eventually fall asleep, only to be woken by your alarm just an hour or two later. Upon waking from such short sleep you can feel completely wrecked.

It leaves me wondering if you would feel more rested if you didn't sleep for just one hour. Maybe if you could relax throughout the night without really sleeping, you'd feel more rested by the time your alarm goes.

But is it physically possible to recharge as if you were sleeping without actually sleeping?

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    $\begingroup$ wikipedia says: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep If sleep were not essential, one would expect to find: Animal species that do not sleep at all Animals that do not need recovery sleep after staying awake longer than usual Animals that suffer no serious consequences as a result of lack of sleep $\endgroup$ – Ro Siv Jun 29 '15 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Marc - this has received a number of close votes because personal medical questions, or questions relating to your own personal health, are considered off topic. To make this "on topic" just remove the references to your own situation, therefore any answers/recommendations cannot be misconstrued as personal medical advice (which the vast majority of people here are not qualified to give). Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 29 '15 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ I suggested a very radical rewriting edit in order to remove all "personal health problem" wording and thus have the question qualify for reopening. You don't have to accept it, of course. But I think that with it, your question has a chance of getting open again and gathering more answers. $\endgroup$ – rumtscho Jun 29 '15 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Was the edit I made not sufficient? $\endgroup$ – Marc Dingena Jun 29 '15 at 18:58

No, you cannot. Although we don't know how sleep works, we know that lack of sleep is very devastating to the body, and nothing (including laying in bed relaxed but awake) can replace it. If a rat experiences 100% lack of sleep (somebody keeps it awake all the time), this will kill it sooner than 100% lack of food would. There are no wake-until-you-die studies in humans, but even reduced sleep has very bad effects, both cognitive (it impairs you similarly as if you were drunk) and physiological (metabolic changes: you need more energy for the same actions, and food intake increases disproportionally).

If you have insomnia (and yours sounds severe), you need to get it treated. There are different options depending on whether an underlying cause is found, and whether behavioral therapies turn out to work for you. There are no alternatives which replace sleep.

The above is just a summary. For a dry but very reliable source on sleep, see Principles of neural science (ed. Kandel et al), Chapter 51 written by David McCormick and Gary Westbrook. For a very good popular science book on the subject, see Sleep thieves by Stanley Coren, I can recommend it for anybody with insomnia.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi, this is a well-written answer, but can you include a few references (e.g. that lack of sleeps would kill you sooner than lack of food). Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 29 '15 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Luke I did. Kandell (or rather the chapter author, K. is the editor) says that part about the "kill you sooner". I don't think I can find the exact page because I have the Kindle edition. $\endgroup$ – rumtscho Jun 29 '15 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. Didn't realise that reference was for all the points due to the vague wording - my apologies, it is an interesting answer. $\endgroup$ – Luke Jun 29 '15 at 14:45

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