Death

Fatal Familial Insomnia: No Sleep, Followed By Certain Death

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

Fatal familial insomnia is one of five known prion diseases that affect humans, and is typically caused by a mutated PRNP gene that one inherits from their parents. Symptoms of FFI don't usually occur until a person is in their 40s or 50s, and death follows their emergence after an average of 18 months. Victims suffer from increasing insomnia, followed by hallucinations, paranoia, and dementia. They become mute and unresponsive in the final stages of the disease. Thankfully, FFI is incredibly rare, and has been recorded in only around 100 people from 40 families.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. The world record for sleep deprivation is 264 hours, or about 11 days. 00:36

  2. After prolonged sleep deprivation, people tend to experience "microsleeps," a kind of forced brain shut-down. 02:02

  3. People with fatal familial insomnia will die of total organ failure after 6 to 30 sleepless months. 02:42

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.

Advertisement