#1: Randy Gardner’s record
Did you know that the famous Guinness World Records don’t keep records of sleep deprivation anymore because they’re simply too afraid that trying to reach a new record could cause severe health damage? But in the good old days they did, and Randy Gardner is still believed by many to hold the official world record for the longest sleep deprivation (although many others, less documented cases have broken his record).
And what were the consequences of his 11 days and 24 minutes without sleep? Extreme moodiness and severe problems with concentration and memory, plus paranoia and hallucinations. Luckily, there were no long-term consequences. In his case, at least…
#2: 200+ hours of radio broadcasting by Peter Tripp
The well-known American radio presenter did his own little experiment with sleep deprivation in 1959, when he broadcasted his show in the famous Times Square in New York for 201 continuous hours. He seemingly got through the torture with nothing but some hallucinations and other mental problems (and otherwise just fine), but his friends and family later claimed that he was a completely different man after that. And he indeed got divorced and lost his job afterwards, so his experiment might not have been so innocent after all!
#3: Sleep and beauty experiment
Lack of sleep does come with certain beauty challenges – we all know that, right? But Swedish researchers took things a step further in their 2013 experiment and tested how much does sleep deprivation really impact our facial appearance.
Their results? Sleep deprivation leaves deep marks on our faces, and others perceive us as not only less beautiful because of hanging eyelids, red, swollen eyes, more wrinkles and similar, but also fatigued and sad. Certainly not the best characteristics to boost success in life, what do you think?
#4: Dying from sleep deprivation?
Before you panic, take a week off from work and lock yourself into your dark bedroom – relax, sleep deprivation doesn’t seem to be able to directly cause death in humans. That is what science claims so far, at least… But scientific research has shown that extreme sleep deprivation can cause death in some animals, namely rats. If it can cause death in rats, can we really be sure that it can’t cause it in humans?
#5: French night-shift workers study
As if working night shifts isn’t demanding enough, the research from France in 2014 concluded that night-shift workers’ (who generally sleep less and have irregular sleeping cycles) brains aged for more than additional 6 years, which has caused worse performance in the areas of memory, processing and overall brain function.
#6: Life span and lack of sleep study
A joint effort from the University of Warwick, England and the University of Naples, Italy led to a shocking conclusion in 2010. After examining studies that involved more than 1 million people in total, a connection between lack of sleep an premature death was found. Apparently, people who slept less than 6 hours per night were 12% more likely to die prematurely, before the age of 65.
#7: What can we learn from the greatest mind ever?
To end on a positive note, let’s try to learn something positive from studying the life of arguably the smartest man that ever lived on our planet, Albert Einstein. In the abundance of curiosities that make his persona great even to this day, Einstein supposedly also liked to sleep 10 hours per night and hated periods when he couldn’t get much sleep. If it worked for the greatest mind ever, it can work for us all too, right? Good night!