Fatal Familial Insomnia: No Sleep, Followed By Certain Death
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.
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Key Facts In This Video
The world record for sleep deprivation is 264 hours, or about 11 days. (0:36)
After prolonged sleep deprivation, people tend to experience "microsleeps," a kind of forced brain shut-down. (2:02)
People with fatal familial insomnia will die of total organ failure after 6 to 30 sleepless months. (2:42)