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Man Tries to Stay Awake 40 Days

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the more-coffee dept.

Idle 30

28-year-old photographer Tyler Shields is trying to break a record that Guinness wants no part of. He's trying to stay awake for 40 days straight without the help of a newborn baby or really bad neighbors. From the article: "If staying awake for 40 days is half as difficult -- or half as painful -- as Shields makes it sound, he could hold the record forever. 'This is the worst thing you could ever possibly do to yourself, and I would recommend no one do this,' he said. Though Shields is accustomed to functioning on less sleep than many people, he still trained his body to stay awake for days on end before the record attempt. Thanks to the training, he said the first few weeks were easy."

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Better than acid (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 4 years ago | (#34015150)

In college especially, I went through some (what seemed to me) very long periods without sleep. Not sleeping one or two nights made me a little punch drunk, to say the least. As my awake time prolonged past the 24-hour mark, I would start having waking dreams and seeing strange stuff. Maybe you get over a hump after the first few days, but I suspect that soon thereafter you start getting into some serious delirium. Maybe we should hand the guy a paint brush and see what he comes up with. Or, perhaps we should keep any conceivably pointy object well away from him - you never know when he might start stabbing his arm to make the spiders go away!

Re:Better than acid (2, Funny)

alienzed (732782) | about 4 years ago | (#34027522)

or at that point stabbing the knife with the spiders to make his arm go away.

Re:Better than acid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34032962)

No, I'm pretty sure dropping some acid and not being tired as shit until the tail end of your trip is better than sleep deprivation.

Re:Better than acid (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#34040278)

    Your 24 hour mark seems consistent with what I've seen other people say about staying awake for prolonged periods.

    I used to do 48 hours pretty regularly. I'm fairly confident that I have "Delayed sleep phase syndrome", but I haven't had insurance to go see the proper specialists about it. The main symptom is sleeping in late, and going to sleep late. One of the other symptoms is that if I miss a sleep period, I won't typically feel tired, so I'll continue the second day like I had proper sleep. The following night, I'll catch up though.

    If I try to stay up beyond the 36 to 48 hours, I'll have intermittent auditory hallucinations. It's things like someone calling my name, when they couldn't have possibly done it. 72 to 96 hours is my limit, but at that extreme, I really drag along until I can find somewhere resembling comfortable to fall down. :)

    I'm not a pshrink, but I'm fairly sure he'll do some mental damage to himself, or eventually just pass out before the end of his 40 days. At some point your body can't take it any more, and you will fall out, even if you're walking and talking as you do so.

Re:Better than acid (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34072372)

Probably not some "Delayed sleep phase syndrome"...from what I can tell, it works that way for pretty much anybody (not many people do it regularly enough to analyze their state though). A "cliff" / crisis in the morning, some time after you would wake up normally - and once it passes, one can mostly carry on throughout the day.

But still mostly with illusion of full wakefulness, probably constantly falling into microsleeps. And what this guy is almost certainly doing - with how dysfunctional his mind is now, it's easy to convince oneself of few continuos weeks without sleep just because it isn't done in a proper way (similar to fantasies of "polyphasic sleep" faithful)

Re:Better than acid (2, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | about 4 years ago | (#34050342)

...thereafter you start getting into some serious delirium. Maybe we should hand the guy a paint brush and see what he comes up with.

If you hand him a compiler he'll probably come up with perl.

Is he... (1)

exx1976 (1716406) | about 4 years ago | (#34016956)

giving up sleep for Lent??

Chemical Help? (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | about 4 years ago | (#34017660)

I wonder what level of chemical help he is allowed for this. Caffeine is one thing, but are coke or meth in the mix? There are probably some tweekers out there that could actually give the record a run for its money if Guinness isn't that picky.

Re:Chemical Help? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 years ago | (#34018790)

According to TFA he's not even drinking coffee. He says that he's not having any problems staying awake, just that actually doing stuff is so much harder for him.

Re:Chemical Help? (1)

Viperpete (1261530) | about 4 years ago | (#34062246)

I once said to a friend, "I wish there was a pill I could take so I wouldn't need to sleep." He replied, "I know some drugs you can take so you will never need to sleep the rest of your life."

The first? (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 4 years ago | (#34018770)

I have a vague recollection of a DJ that stayed on the air for 40 days continuously. Clearly there is a special class of people out there who have no problems whatsoever staying up heroic lengths of time.

Re:The first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34031518)

I remember seeing something like that years ago, but to say he had no problems whatsoever would be pretty much the opposite of what happened. I remember him going completely nuts during the ordeal...

Re:The first? (1)

shougyin (1920460) | about 4 years ago | (#34044910)

I can't find any place, and have read that it's not true that you are clinically insane after 72 hours of not sleeping, but I think that should change. Our brains were just not meant to function under those conditions.

Re:The first? (1)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34057850)

Yeah, but with techno music people will think that his rhythmic snoring is some sort of new german hardcore softcore trance dance prance mix.

Synthetic rubber inside is (1)

aotian (1915400) | about 4 years ago | (#34020200)

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No caffeine! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34029126)

That's really hard to believe. I stayed awake for about 5 days once, but I was eating coffee sandwiches near the end of that just to keep going. In case your wondering, a coffee sandwich is 2 buttered slices of bread with a generous sprinkling of instant coffee granules in the middle. Of course I washed them down with mugs of coffee.

Video or it didn't happen (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | about 4 years ago | (#34029610)

He has friends that will vouch for him. That's reliable.

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 4 years ago | (#34035630)

That's exactly what I was thinking. I can get my friends to tell you that I did a hand stand for 14 hours straight, but they're not exactly the most credible unbiased witnesses.

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

masmullin (1479239) | about 4 years ago | (#34057856)

I did a hand stand for 14 hours straight

It's true, I saw it everybody! (can we be friends now?)

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34072374)

And it could be so easy, just hooking up EEG... (but that would show he constantly falls into microsleep for most of those few weeks)

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34086088)

Not that I believe the [delusions/ lies] of the claimant for one second ...

And it could be so easy, just hooking up EEG...

How would you go about doing the "easy" "hooking up of an EEG"?

Step (1) first obtain an EEG.

I guess that I'd have to try getting to know some research workers at the Department of Medical Physics. I can't think of anywhere else that would have one (which I could borrow - the A&E department have probably got several, but need them on a "now, not in 5 minutes" basis.

Step (2) : find someone who knows how to connect that model of EEG to a patient ...

OK, conceivably you've got 7 EEGs in your apartment, which you've stacked up and thrown a faux tiger-skin over to form your Quagmire-a-like bar. But that's unlikely to be a commonly available solution.

I'd have gone for the video-camera solution someone else suggested. But as you say, that would have shown him full of microsleeps, along with the occasional fumble when they change the tapes. (Actually, changing the tapes would be a worthwhile test of dexterity. He'd have failed, regularly.) (I regularly pull 36 hour stints, with concentration and detail levels rising towards the end ; I don't believe the guy's claim for a second.)

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34086912)

Sure, EEGs don't exactly grow on trees - I just meant it as a solution which is very reliable and decently doable (maybe know somebody with private practice? Or... [] - certainly much worse from medical ones, but might be enough for noticing sleep; then there's also [] )

PS. Posted when close to 24h without sleep, near a "cliff"/crisis period. It's better to do ~36h and go to sleep normally - as you said, in a few hours it will be bearable/better; but how much of that is formed by our skewed perception? (good thing there's a holiday at my place today)

Re:Video or it didn't happen (1)

cavePrisoner (1184997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34077924)

Good point. Hell, back when I used to have to pull a lot of 28+ hour shifts watching a front desk I tended to fall asleep without even noticing it. I'd figure it out because the show I was watching wouldn't make any sense anymore.

As a side note, it wasn't until I started doing those shifts that I realized most of my hangovers weren't caused by alcohol, but by my body's reaction to sleep deprivation.

This could be deadly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34060264)

It hasn't been tested on humans, but rats who were kept awake for something like a month *died*

If there's any consolation in this, he probably won't be able to stay awake that long without chemicals, but not sleeping for long enough leaves you as impaired as you would be if you were drunk, so it's a pretty terrible idea.

She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | about 4 years ago | (#34062604)

My personal record: 17 days. I certainly don't remember, but based on my average at that time, I think it took me at least 50 grams, probably a lot more.

The hallucinations after the first 5 days are just awful.

Believe this guy, you don't want to go through that.

Re:She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#34072332)

Awful in what way?

Re:She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie (2, Interesting)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#34074326)

Two words: extreme paranoia. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome. But it's frightening too. And when you get to that level often, it's time to quit coke forever.

When you have been in a dark room for 10 straight hours, sweating like a pig, absolutely convinced that outside is a swat team trying to get a head shot on you, and you can see the lasers upon your body, and at one point you are sure that you have developed the ability to sense IR on your skin, and are using that ability to track who is trying to kill you, you will understand.

Death wish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#34063458)

That could very well kill him... very stupid way to gain fame!

He'll die (1)

Silpher (1379267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34099590)

Very creative way of self torturing and suicide :) You know it's used as a torture method in some countries.
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