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How Long Could You Survive Without Water, Sleep, Food, or Oxygen

Updated on August 1, 2011

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The Facts

How long you could survive without water depends entirely on your health, and the conditions you are in. For example, hot temperature equals more water. Before I give away any answers I want to make it clear to you that none of these answers are exact but rather estimated. Also it is important to keep in mind that these answers are based upon you having no water or food as many foods today are water based and can keep you alive much longer. If you are in a climate in which the temperature is around 120 degrees fahrenheit then you can survive for about 12-24 hours. If you are in a climate in which the temperature is around 100 degrees fahrenheit you could survive for 1-2 days. And if you are in a climate with a temperature of around 80 degrees fahrenheit you would live around 2-3 days.

It is important to drink at least two quarts of water every day since your body is about 70 percent water. Water is essential for the body because it is used for so many different things such as carrying nutrients to the body, lubricating joints, protecting the nervous system, cooling the body, removing toxins and waste, processing your foods, and so much more. Water also replaces sweat lost when active, tears lost from crying, and water lost from breathing or urinating. Water can also be lost from drinking caffeine. If you do not drink enough water you could enter a state of dehydration. Dehydration is when your body does not have as much water or fluids as needed. Some symptoms of dehydration are dry mouth, low or no urine, dark urine, no tears, dry skin, and little or no appetite.

Another important concept is to always have a water supply nearby. Water bottles are great to carry around when going out as it is right there with you when you get thirsty to prevent dehydration. I suggest having a spare water filter at your house as they eventually can save you hundreds and you can turn regular tap water into fresh filtered water. Modern water filters work because they stop any molecules larger than water from passing using carbon in a solid form. Many water companies such as Arrowhead get their supply of water from mountain springs.

Water fun fact: Why does ice float in water instead of sink? Anything less dense than water floats. water has a density of 1. The density formula is mass over volume. When water freezes air gets trapped inside increasing the volume but not the mass. This mean ice is less dense than water causing it to float.

How Long Could You Survive With No Food?

If you were to have no food and only water how long would you live? This is a commonly asked question yet there is no exact answer as it depends on one's health conditions, fat, muscle, nutrients, work done when not eating, temperature, and climate they are in when not eating. However the average person in a normal condition would live about 4-5 weeks on average.

It is important to keep in mind little or too much food is not good for the body. The Jewish people had been given about 500 calories a day and because of the low food, heat, and sicknesses spread throughout the camps many had died in a few months. If you do not get enough food the body will start to eat itself. Food is important for nutrients, energy, pumping the heart, and basically keep your internal organs healthy and alive. However, you can always train your body to need less food. If you were to get into a routine of small food portions your body would adapt to the change.

So what happens if there is an earthquake and you get trapped? That is just one reason it is important to keep dry foods. I suggest rice as it is easy to make, cheap, and takes a long time to get old.

One compound in many of the food we eat today is NaCl or better known as table salt. Table salt is commonly used for it's well known flavor. Why is salt so bad? Salt can higher blood pressure as it retains water. If you were to have little or no salt then you would lose so much weight but it would all be water. Most weight loss programs are based on salt free foods so that you can see quick results and stay with the program. This is bad because as soon as you start to have salt food almost all the weight lost will come right back.

Where you're food goes:

1. Food enters the mouth where it is mixed with saliva to process easily.

2. The food goes down the esophagus leading to the stomach.

3. Food enters the stomach and is mixed with chemicals to help break down your food.

4. From the stomach food enters the small intestines where nutrients are absorbed.

5. Remaining water and waste not absorbed goes through the large intestines and then to the anus.

How Long Could You Survive Without Oxygen?

One commonly asked question I get a lot is how long could you survive with oxygen. There is no set answer but scientists can usually come close to a good estimate. If all of a sudden oxygen would remove itself from your body or if blood circulation to your brain was cut of you would lose conscience in about 10-15 seconds. After about three minutes of no oxygen you would severe permanent damage to the brain, and finally after 4-5 minutes you would be brain dead. This is because the brain is made of about 20 percent oxygen and without oxygen the brain would not be alive.

Oxygen is important for many reasons 3 of which are:

1. The ability to keep cells strong by giving them energy because without this our metabolisms would be weak and we would easily pick up sicknesses and viruses.

2. Oxygen is also is needed to kill any harmful bacteria in our bodies.

3. About 80 percent of our energy made comes from oxygen.

4. Without oxygen we could not have fire.

5. Oxygen combines with two hydrogen atoms to make water.

6. It forms our ozone layer.

Oxygen first came to earth as a result of the big bang but at first oxygen was not in the form of oxygen. At first oxygen atoms were combined with other atoms or molecules such as CO2. Plants used the oxygen and provided oxygen as a waste product. As oxygen built up and was free in the atmosphere some oxygen molecules broke off from one another because of strong UV rays forming oxygen atoms. As these oxygen atoms hit oxygen molecules they formed O3 better known as ozone. As oxygen atoms hit oxygen molecules more ozone formed eventually forming and ozone layer. The ozone layer is very important as it protects us from UV rays.

The path of oxygen in your body:

The respiratory system is responsible for the oxygen you breath in.

1. You breath in oxygen through your mouth or nose.

2. The oxygen goes through the larynx and trachea.

3. Oxygen then goes through bronchial tubes which are small tubes split up from the trachea.

4. Oxygen then enters the lungs and enters a sack called the alveoli.

5. Oxygen is sent to the capillaries.

6. From the capillaries oxygen enters the blood.

How Long Could You Survive Without Sleep?

As many know sleep is essential for life but how long you can go without it is a question many ask. Everyone has different sleep patterns with some of us needing 9-10 hours of sleep a day and others needing only 5-6 hours. Some people sleep more on the weekends than the weekdays. With others sleeping 3-4 hours a day with the occasion of sleeping an entire day. However, most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep a day while most doctors insist at least 6 hours.

So how long can one go without sleep?

1. With 1-2 days of staying awake one would be very tired.

2. With 4-5 days of staying awake most would have hallucinations and be very paranoid.

3. With 5-6 days of staying awake one's body would try to automatically shut down the body into sleep mode.

4. With 10-11 days of staying awake some would die.

Sleep is important for the following reasons and more:

1. Not enough sleep could result in weight gain. This is because not enough sleep allows you're hormones for appetite.

2. Not enough sleep could result in stress.

3. Sleep is needed as a rest period to heal the body.

4. Sleep is important to allow for your growth.

5. Sleep is proven to improve one's mood.

6. Sleep helps one's concentration level.

7. Sleep gives one creativity to new ideas.

8. Sleep restores brain chemicals.

You may be sleep deprived if:

1. You need an alarm clock to wake yourself up.

2. Have a hard time getting out of bed.

3. Are tired during the day.

4. Need a nap throughout the day.

5. Fall asleep in 10 minutes once in bed.


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    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Well written hub, I just watch something on TV about how to survive in the rainforest without shoes or clothing. The only thing they (a man and a woman had) was a machete and they were to survive for 21 days.

      Your hub is interesting and reminds me of the TV show.

      Voted up, interesting and will share. You should ask that question in a forum.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      interesting! keep writing!

    • HERBERT ubaldo profile image

      HERBERT ubaldo 

      8 years ago

      sleep.... hope you can write about dream interpretations, thanks...nice hub.

    • chanroth profile image


      8 years ago from California, USA

      Very well written! :)

    • WriteitToday profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in France.


      A very interesting and well written article :)

      Keep on Writing,



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