His name is Randy Gardner, and he holds the record for the longest period that a human being has intentionally gone without sleep and without the use of any form of stimulant to stay awake. Gardner’s strange record saw him staying awake for a total of 264 hours – equivalent to 11 days. The previous record holder of this title was a man named Tom Rounds from Honolulu. He went for 260 hours without sleep.
Although some people have claimed to have stayed without sleep longer than 11 days, so far Randy Gardner’s record is the only one that has received proper scientific documentation.
Randy Gardner broke this record in 1965 at the age of 18. He was still in high school as at that time and felt the sudden need to break the record held by Tom Rounds and prove something to the world.
During the record attempt, Gardner was carefully monitored by two professionals – Dr. William Dement who at that time was a Stanford sleep researcher and Lt. Cmdr. John Ross. The latter was responsible for monitoring Gardner’s health while he attempted to break the record.
Randy Gardner braved it all and successfully stayed for approximately 264 hours without any sleep. He successfully broke the record of Tom Rounds by just 4 hours.
Throughout the event, Lt. Cmdr. John Ross, who regularly monitored Gardner’s health said that he identified that Gardner suffered from some major issues relating to his memory and his ability to concentrate. Lt. Ross also said that Gardner suffered from cognitive changes, paranoia, hallucination and even delusion. According to Lt. Ross, at a point, Gardner felt he was someone else.
At the end of the observation, William Dement wrote in his report that Gardner’s intentional sleep deprivation did not have much of a negative effect on him apart from the mood changes he experienced which came as a result of tiredness.
After this stunt, Gardner made full recovery from his sleep deprivation by simply having sufficient series of sleep. His first sleep lasted approximately 14 hours and 40 minutes. His second batch of sleep lasted 10 hours and 30 minutes. On and on Gardner slept until he made full recovery from his loss of sleep.
Over the years, several others have claimed to break Randy Gardner’s sleep deprivation record in excess, but none of them have been supported by proper documentation.
At the moment, the Guinness World Records record for the longest period a person has gone without sleep is held by Maureen Weston who broke that record in 1977 in a rocking-chair marathon. Since no scientific verification supports this record, Gardner’s record still stands out. And by the way the Guinness World Records no longer keeps records of voluntary sleep deprivation because of the fear that participants might fall sick.