My understanding is that with severely hypothermic patients you want to keep them awake if possible. However, if the hypothermia isn't too severe and it's several hours before you can get help - say, if you & the hypothermic person are on a wet mountain trail at night, ten miles from the nearest road, and no one else is with you (a fix I found myself in recently) is it safe to let them sleep?
It seemed a tough choice - bone-chilling wind, only one hat between the two of us, hazardous trail even in daylight, I'd heard moving a hypothermic patient is risky as you dont want to jostle them, some wilderness survival experts say to stay put if you're lost since SAR is likely looking for you. Some people have assumed that just because I remembered one thing from Boyscouts that I should've known how to treat hypothermia, & they thought it odd that I'd think my resources woudn't rewarm the person. I don't know if attempting the trail was feasible as his clothes were taking forever to dry & I didn't have enough spare clothes - I hope most people pack more wisely.
Luckily I didn't have to find out the hard way since some people came along with the right medical supplies before I had to take drastic steps to treat him. Next time I go hiking I'll be better prepared & won't let myself get in this situation. But if I do, or if someone else does: how important is the "not sleeping" advice and why?