American man sets record of 11 days without sleep

Thursday, 28/12/2023, 16:08 (GMT+7)

Randy Gardner was famous after successfully setting his name on the Guinness World Record of 11 days without sleep in 1964, providing specific information for experiments on how sleep deprivation affects health.

Who is Randy Gardner?

Randy Gardner, 1946, is an American man from San Diego, California, who once held the record for the longest time a human goes without sleep

In January 1964, 17-year-old Gardner stayed awake for 11 days and 24 minutes (264.4 hours), breaking the previous record of 260 hours held by Tom Rounds.

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Randy Gardner set his new record of 11 days without sleep in 1964. Image Credit: Getty

The young boy started conducting his unbelievable challenge: 11 days without sleep

At the 1963 Science Fair, two high school students named Randy Gardner and Bruce McAllister came up with a risky idea which was to stay awake as long as possible to see what side effects could occur.

A man whose name is Tom Rounds, from Honolulu, had previously set the record by staying up for an incredible 260 hours, or a little under 11 days.

Their goal was to discover the effects of sleep deprivation on the human brain.

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Gardner and his friend had the idea of staying awake as long as possible. Image Credit: Getty

What specific consequences did Gardner face when he didn't go to sleep in 11 days?

Gardner was identified as a sleeper following the lost coin toss, and after two days without sleep, some very obvious consequences started to emerge. 

Gardner began having difficulty repeating tongue puzzles and had problems focusing his eyes.

To help Gardner, Bruce McAllister also participated in the study but he also began to fall asleep during this time. 

So they invited a third member, Joe Marciano, to join the research team. 

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After two days without sleep, the signs of sleep deprivation started appearing. Image Credit: Getty

The test was also observed by Dr. William Dement, a sleep researcher from Stanford University, and Lieutenant Commander John J. Ross, a medical officer with the United States Navy.

During the test, Gardner experienced major effects from lack of sleep. He becomes easily angry and difficult to control himself. 

Additionally, he also experienced short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, paranoia, and obsession.

According to the report, by the third day, Gardner became uncoordinated and quite emotional, drastic mood changes began at about 72 hours, and hallucinations occurred after five days.

During the day, Gardner would keep busy by playing basketball and pinball with his classmates, and staying awake when the sun came up was said to be much easier, while nighttime became more and more difficult.

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After 5 days, typical signs of sleep deprivation occur such as negative emotional changes, moodiness, and paranoia. Image Credit: Getty

Dement  Gardner's brain activity throughout brain scans showed that his brain was "asleep" for part of that time. Part of Gardner's brain remained active while another part was asleep.

Remarkably, Dement observed Gardner's brain activity throughout brain scans showing that his brain was "asleep" for part of that time. Part of Gardner's brain remains active while another part is asleep.

On the 11th day, when asked to subtract seven numbers in a row, starting from 100, Gardner stopped at 65, saying that he had forgotten what he was doing. 

Finally, after 11 days (264 hours) without sleep, Gardner ended the experiment and was rushed to a naval hospital. 

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Part of Gardner's brain was paralyzed and fell asleep while the rest remained awake. Image Credit: Getty

Health effects on Gardner after setting a record of 11 days without sleep

He then slept for about 14 hours before waking up impressively without feeling too tired.

"I slept just over 14 hours. I remember when I woke up, I was groggy, but not any groggier than a normal person," he said.

Gardner initially appeared to be unaffected by the challenge, but he later acknowledged that he had terrible sleeplessness for years.

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Gardner later suffered sleeplessness for many years after his challenge of 11 days without sleep. Image Credit: Getty

"I was awful to be around. Everything upset me. It was like a continuation of what I did 50 years ago," he admitted.

Guinness World Records later stopped recording these attempts out of fear that individuals would harm their health trying to set new records.