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Second wind (sleep)

2nd wind sleep medical equipment, second wind sleep apnea
Second wind or third wind, fourth wind, etc, also occasionally referred to as the wake maintenance zone, is a sleep phenomenon in which a person, after a prolonged period of staying awake, temporarily ceases to feel drowsy, often making it difficult to fall asleep once it happens123 They are the result of circadian rhythms cycling into a phase of wakefulness4 For example, many people experience the effects of a second wind in the early morning even after an entire night without sleep because it is the time when they would normally wake up

While most "winds" coincide with the 24-hour cycle, those experiencing extended sleep deprivation over multiple days have been known to experience a "Fifth day turning point"


  • 1 Characteristics
    • 11 Performance enhancing
    • 12 Duration
    • 13 "Fifth day turning point"
  • 2 Causes
  • 3 Effects on drugs
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References


The "second wind" phenomenon may have evolved as a survival mechanism as part of the fight or flight response, allowing sleep-deprived individuals briefly to function at a higher level than they would without sleep deprivation5

Performance enhancingedit

One study presented a series of tasks of increasing difficulty to 16 young adults who had not slept in 35 hours and observed heightened activity in several brain regions using magnetic resonance imaging6 Researcher Sean PA Drummond commented that the ability to summon a second wind allowed them to "call on cognitive resources they have that they normally don't need to use to do a certain task" He also noted that their performance, though an improvement considering their state of sleep deprivation, were below what it would be had they slept

Another study found significant improvement in the performance of 31 adults on various neurobehavioral tests after the onset of wake maintenance zone as compared to their performance just three hours prior, despite the fact that the subjects have been awake longer7 The improvement as test subjects caught another wind was even more pronounced on the second day of extended wakefulness


The so-called Wake Maintenance Zone generally lasts 2 to 3 hours, during which one is less inclined to fall asleep7 While potentially useful for completing urgent tasks, it may have a potentially unwanted side-effect of keeping one awake for several hours after the task has been completed8 The hypervigilance and stimulation brought on by a second wind can cause fatigue, which, in the case of infants, can be literally painful5 Thus, an infant may begin crying when sleep habits are disrupted

One can avoid "getting a second wind" by practicing proper sleep hygiene1

Many get a 'second wind' late in the evening, tackle some extra activities, and can't get to sleep until the early hours of the morning This can be avoided by going to bed earlier in the evening, before the 'second wind' has time to kick in8

— Archibald Hart

"Fifth day turning point"edit

Multiple studies have observed that individuals subjected to total sleep deprivation for extended periods spanning multiple days may feel "helplessly sleepy" up until the fifth day, upon which all observed individuals would feel what may be described as a second wind9 This particular form of the experience has been dubbed the "fifth day turning point" Pasnau et al 1968


There are multiple possible ways by which one may experience a second wind depending on the time of day A second wind at around 6-8 AM may be explained by cortisol, a light-triggered hormone, peaking at that time10 Cortisol activates adrenaline, which helps one stay awake11 As late afternoon transitions into evening, changes in light levels can stimulate the suprachiasmatic nucleus to promote an arousal signal12 At about 10:30 PM depending on the season, melatonin—the hormone responsible for preparing the body for sleep—peaks; a second wind may occur at this time if one resists or fails to fall asleep before the peak11 Such second winds could aggravate sleep debt

Adrenaline as a result of anxiety or stress may also be a culprit68

Effects on drugsedit

Care should be taken as to avoid administering hypnotic medications too early as the medication may reach peak action during the wake maintenance zone Not only could such negate the effectiveness of the sleep-aid, but may cause users of the drug to experience disinhibition, hallucinations, or other dissociative phenomenon if they remain awake3

See alsoedit

  • Sleep state misperception
  • Insomnia
  • Hypnophobia
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome


  1. ^ a b Sleep Hygiene Queendomcom
  2. ^ http://wwwparentsconnectcom/questions/weissbluth-sleep-second-windjhtml
  3. ^ a b Stephen H Sheldon; Meir H Kryger; Richard Ferber; David Gozal 2005 "Principles and Practice of Pediatric Sleep Medicine" 
  4. ^ "PsychEd Up, Vol 2, Issue 2" PDF p 6 Retrieved 16 May 2013 
  5. ^ a b Weissbluth, Marc 1999 Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child 
  6. ^ a b Marill, Michele Cohen "Surviving the Day After an All-Nighter" WebMD 
  7. ^ a b Julia A Shekleton; Shantha M W Rajaratnam; Joshua J Gooley; Eliza Van Reen; Charles A Czeisler & Steven W Lockley Apr 15, 2013 "Improved Neurobehavioral Performance during the Wake Maintenance Zone" Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine 
  8. ^ a b c Hart, Archibald D 1995 1986 The Hidden Link Between Adrenalin & Stress 
  9. ^ Neilsen, Tore A, Marie Dupont, and Jacque Montplaisir "A 20-h recovery sleep after prolonged sleep restriction: some effects of competing in a world record-setting cinemarathon" PDF  CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  10. ^ High Cortisol Levels - Causes of Elevated Cortisol and How To Fix
  11. ^ a b Brunshaw, Jacquelinee July 31, 2012 "Paying the sandman: Bad night patterns, chronic sleep debt and risks to your health" National Post 
  12. ^ Lieberman III, Joseph A & David N Neubauer "Normal Sleep and Wakefulness" PDF 

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