Staying awake record attempt live on the web

Tony Wright is aiming to beat the world record for staying awake, and you can watch him on a webcam. The record is currently held by Randy Gardner who managed 11 days without sleep.

A previous record was famously claimed by Radio DJ Peter Tripp who stayed awake for 8 days, but used methylphenidate (Ritalin) to help him fight off sleep.

Methylphenidate is a form of amphetamine and it’s known to increase the risk of psychosis in some people. Sleep deprivation is also linked to psychosis.

Needless to say, Tripp was quite psychotic by the end of his ‘wakeathon’ with hallucinations and paranoid delusions.

As it wasn’t widely known that Tripp had taken stimulants, it was assumed that sleep deprivation led to madness.

This is why Gardner suggested at the final press conference that he was perfectly fine, announcing that “I wanted to prove that bad things didn’t happen if you went without sleep”.

Contrary to Gardner’s claims, it was obvious that the lack of sleep was causing cognitive difficulties, as well as temporary delusions and hallucinations, although not to the same extent as Tripp suffered.

We know now that sleep deprivation causes significant mood problems, reality distortion and profound cognitive difficulties.

So, if you’re watching the webcam you might see some rather unusual behaviour, as Tony Wright is likely to be experiencing some very odd things as time goes on.

Link to Tony Wright’s record attempt webpage (via MeFi).
Link to live webcam.

2 Comments

  1. Posted May 15, 2007 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    Ironically, while sleep deprivation causes mood problems in the short term, it can also alleviate depression. Apparently,REM sleep is behind this, though it’s unclear how it has this effect.
    Source, e.g.:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=17250898&query_hl=2&itool=pubmed_docsum

  2. Posted May 16, 2007 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    You mention of Ritalin reminds that lack of sleep has also been linked to ADHD [ http://www.myomancy.com/2005/11/you_are_feeling.html ] though one study found that depriving children of sleep did cause academic problems but not hyperactivity [ http://www.myomancy.com/2005/11/the_less_childr.html ].
    Chris


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