It was the 1960s: some young Americans wanted to do a science experiment. And by the way, enter the Guinness Records. It was January 1964. Randy Gardner and Bruce McAllister began this adventure. Randy was 17 years old at the time. And at that age, he became the man who didn’t sleep for 11 days.
The record was held by a Honolulu DJ. He was without sleep for 260 hours, just under 11 days. Randy got over it. He was awake for 11 days and 25 minutes. Bruce McAllister tells it. “Originally, we wanted to know how lack of sleep affects paranormal abilities. But we realized that it wasn’t possible. So we decided to look at the effects of lack of sleep on cognitive abilities. “
He tried to stay awake to monitor his partner’s behavior. But after the third night he found that he just couldn’t. So he asked another friend, Joe Marciano, to join in. The experiment was performed at Bruce’s childhood home in San Diego. The group was joined by William Dement, now a professor emeritus at Stanford University in California. In 1964 he began researching the science of sleep as a scientist.
Professor Dement read the story in a diary. He remembers that the students were relieved when he joined the group.
“They were concerned that it was something that could harm them. Can you die of long sleep deprivation? ”He explains. An experiment was carried out with cats. After 15 days without sleep, the animals died. The difference was that chemicals were used to keep them awake. The night was the critical time because they weren’t very busy. Instead, during the day they played basketball and were active.
Young people experimented with tastes, smells, sounds. Then we started to notice changes. His cognitive even sensory abilities began to suffer. But his basketball skills have improved, ”says Bruce.
After the record was hit, the man who had not slept for 11 days slept for 14 hours straight. He woke up to go to the bathroom. As the days passed, his sleep patterns returned to normal. At first he had no problems. But later he said he suffered from insomnia.
Bruce explains that the project has left some lessons for science. An Arizona hospital sent a computer that found that parts of Randy’s brain had been “hijacked”. That is, parts of his brain rested and filled up while others were awake.
The story of the young people caught the interest of the press. It was the third most popular topic in the US national media. It was only exceeded by the Kennedy assassination attempt and the visit of the Beatles.