Beginning this morning, Tony Wright set out to break the Guinness World Record for remaining sleepless. Sleep Review will be monitoring Wright’s progress by speaking with him periodically for as long as he can sustain wakefulness.
The record for staying awake was set in 1964 by Randy Gardner who stayed awake for 264 hours, the equivalent of 11 days. Wright hopes his endeavors will provide information to research questions about the role of sleep. The attempt takes place at a pub in Penzance,
Read below to find out what Wright said about why he decided to attempt to the break the record and how he plans to stay awake.
Sleep Review: Can you tell me why you decided to do this?
Tony Wright: Sure, it’s a combination of about 15 or 16 years of research which is not exclusively related to sleep. But sleep has been quite a big interest of mine, particularly human sleep requirement, why we need sleep, the anomalies around sleep, such as sleepwalking, dreaming, the use of sleep deprivation in tradition, traditional religions, and that kind of thing. I figured it [the effects of sustained sleep deprivation] was a fairly easy thing to test, combined with my interest in plant bio chemistry and diet and so on. —Really just staying awake and trying to see what would happen, assess my own condition.
Sleep Review: Are you feeling pretty awake right now since you just started?
Tony Wright: Well sure, yes. There has been quite a bit of interest about the launch but there is not really much to report as of yet. I only started this morning, so I am only a few hours in, really.
Sleep Review: Have you tried to do this before?
Tony Wright: I have not tried to break any records before. I’ve done a lot of experiments simply to really see what happens—anything from about 2 days to about 8 days. I’ve done about 100 runs all together along those lines.
Sleep Review: How do you imagine that you will be feeling after the first week? Do you think you will have hallucinations?
Tony Wright: I’ve never experienced hallucinations before. I have never done 11 days [without sleeping] so who knows. I would expect the first week to be reasonably straightforward as long as I am reasonably focused and don’t go lie down and relax somewhere. It will be new territory so it is difficult to say.
Sleep Review: What are you doing to stay awake?
Tony Wright: It’s fairly informal, really. It’s a case of people visiting me and just chatting with people. I am based at a live music venue. So there is music on some of the time. There is a pool table. It’s just bits and pieces really. Based on my past experiments, I don’t expect too much difficulty initially. It might get a bit more challenging towards the end.
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