What is the world record for staying awake?

The London Times reports that Tony Wright of Cornwall recently stayed awake for 266 hours. He was attempting to break the world record of 264 hours awake set by Randy Gardner of San Diego in 1964. Wright was also attempting to demonstrate that, thanks to his "caveman diet" of raw food, he was able to "train his mind in such a way as to stay awake for 11 days and remain coherent and aware of what was going on around him."

The Times then goes on to report the bad news. Gardner didn't actually hold the world record for staying awake. Gardner's record had long since been surpassed by others. So Wright didn't set a new record.

The Times reports that: "The Guinness previous record was for 11½ days, or 276 hours, and was set by Toimi Soini in Hamina, Finland, between February 5 to 15, 1964." However, Soini's record was removed from the Guinness Book of Records in 1989. "It was deleted on the grounds that it could encourage records harmful to health and was unverifiable because of the claims of insomnia sufferers."

Actually, the question of who holds the world record for staying awake is a little more complicated than that, which I know because Gardner's sleep deprivation experiment is one of the experiments I discuss in Elephants On Acid: and Other Bizarre Experiments. I even interviewed Randy Gardner, who still lives in San Diego.

Gardner set his record on January 8, 1964. Two weeks later newspapers reported that Jim Thomas, a student at Fresno State College, beat Gardner's record by staying awake for 266.5 hours. And a month later Soini set the new record. 1964 was a banner year for sleep-deprivation trials.

However, subsequent issues of the Guinness Book of Records report far longer periods of sleep deprivation. The 1978 edition, for instance, states that:
The longest recorded period for which a person has voluntarily gone without sleep is 449 hr (14 days 13 hours) by Mrs. Maureen Weston of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire in a rocking chair marathon on 14 Apr.-2 May 1977. Though she tended to hallucinate toward the end of this surely ill-advised test, she surprisingly suffered no lasting ill effects.
Ironically, I don't believe Randy Gardner's record ever did make it into Guinness. Gardner reports that "I did not get listed in Guiness as I missed the publication date." However, Gardner's record is the most frequently cited because it was (and probably still is) the most scientifically rigorous long-term human sleep-deprivation study, since Gardner was monitored by Dr. William Dement of Stanford University.

The overall problem with determining the record for the longest a person has stayed awake is that people take "microsleeps" without being aware of it. To really determine if a person has been constantly awake you'd need to record their brainwaves throughout the experiment. As far as I know, such a study has never been done.

Body Manipulation Science

Posted on Sat May 26, 2007


ok so this is how it is....me and ma home girl have been up fo like 46 hours and we jus chillin...feelin good...and lovin tha hatas...cause ya'll know we aint nothin wit out dem hoes....they b sleepin now...but us hell naw we got this on lock down....we still up and goin....I(tash) have to be at work in like 5.5 hours and i'm still goin...we got this...energizer bunny status fo rizzle....we keep goin and goin and goin and goin!!!!! holla at us we be up!!!
Posted by tashley simple  in  Dramaville,IN  on  Sun Jan 10, 2010  at  03:28 AM
my girlfriend has been awake from christmas day 2009... at about 5a.m. and hasnt slept at all since then... so thats 422 hours of being awake... and she hasnt officially been diagnosed to have insomnia and shes not trying to stay awake.... i would seriously be surprised if anyone can beat this
Posted by jay cook  in  england  on  Mon Jan 11, 2010  at  12:25 PM
i can beat those records anytime: grin
Posted by Alex  in  Romania  on  Wed Jan 13, 2010  at  08:45 AM
Oh come on, we could beat that. Well, we do have ADHD, so that kinda helps. And we are the most hyper persons on this earth!
Posted by Lexi & Heaven  in  Somewhere in IL  on  Sun Feb 14, 2010  at  02:39 AM
Posted by johnny appleseed  in  newyork,newyork  on  Sat Feb 20, 2010  at  08:19 PM
Hey i have been awake 10 days 2hours and 32min i halucinated and saw a banana in the toliet it made fun of me so i flushed him wish me luck just need 9days 21hours 28min till my personal rec
Posted by johnny appleseed  in  new york, new york  on  Sat Feb 20, 2010  at  08:24 PM
p.s. im a kid
Posted by johnny appleseed  in  new york, new york  on  Sat Feb 20, 2010  at  08:26 PM
i will beat that
Posted by quinn elsea  in  decatur  on  Sun Feb 21, 2010  at  01:44 PM
i,ve stayed up for 9 days so far and i'm only 14. But it's so hard not to doze off in class.
Posted by landon  in  viginia  on  Tue Feb 23, 2010  at  06:04 AM
Im going to try to stay awake for 20 days and brake the world record i have been up right now for 29 hrs in to my long journey of nothing but tv computer and xbox live i hope i can do it please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
of my myspace and http://www.myspace.com/inforis_red and my 360 gamertag is xkillinyax2012 please support me and if i fail well i can try again over and over i got alot of life in me so yep thanks bye.
Posted by Jeff P  in  Hernando Fl  on  Fri Feb 26, 2010  at  03:02 AM
wow i dont get it.. how can u type when u havent slept for 5+ days? when i didnt sleep for 5 days i started helllucinating and become a dummy
Posted by doooddd  on  Wed Mar 03, 2010  at  11:07 AM
My record is 67 hours. 9am on Monday morning until 4am on Thursday morning. My brain broke a little.
Posted by nukkaplz nickz0r  in  Micronesia  on  Sat Mar 13, 2010  at  01:47 AM
yeah,that's not good for you at all..... ohh
Posted by Gertha  in  Delaware  on  Fri Mar 19, 2010  at  07:23 PM
omggg, that sooo long! how can they survive without sleep!? right now, at this moment, i'm at my 35th hour of conciousness. aaaah, i'm only gonna try it for 72 hours, cuz i'm going to san francisco tmmrw ;P
Posted by alexandra  in  NORCAL  on  Tue Mar 30, 2010  at  09:23 PM
My buddy and I have been up for a full 51 hours so far and are still going strongs. AMERICA!
Posted by Derek  in  Hadley, Pa  on  Thu Apr 01, 2010  at  11:58 AM
The longest I stayed awake is about 33 hours (2 days) because I was 3!
Posted by Hana  in  south carolana  on  Wed Apr 07, 2010  at  02:18 PM
Posted by hellbilly  in  tennesse  on  Fri Apr 09, 2010  at  05:26 PM
I'm an insomniac too. Also had it my entire life. I hate having this with a vengence, although i think mines' all genetically linked up as chronic insomnia runs very strongly on my dads side of the family and theres no reason for me to be having trouble sleeping (my doctor always likes to beg to differ with me on the genetic factor though which frustrates me even though i have evidence to back it up with). He refuses to dish out anymore sleeping pills for me as 'they are only meant to be short term soluations.' Quite clearly he has never suffered from insomnia in his life. Haven't been back to see him since.
To people who don't have sleeping disorders and who are intentionally staying up for the hell of it, please don't. Please instead, be glad that you can fall asleep normally because some of us just aren't that lucky. My personal record for staying awake unintentionally was 62 hours and that was horrible. Have two jobs and went to work for both of them during that patch and felt like death warmed up. I nearly got fired from one of them as i made several large mistakes.
On average i get around 3/4/5 hours sleep per night, if i'm lucky. Been awake 24 hours at the moment. Tried to go to sleep but no luck. This is torture.
Posted by Insomniac1984  in  The UK  on  Mon Apr 12, 2010  at  09:06 PM
Hi my names Blake and my record is 167 hours ( just under 7 days) and i then was driving with my mates and passed out i was also 13 at the time whitch may help with being able to stay awake for longer.
Posted by blake  in  australia  on  Mon Apr 19, 2010  at  08:26 PM
I stade up for 12,345 hours and 1 day. It was a bunch of chrap. I coudent think or really do anything i was so tierd.
Posted by Emily Temes  in  *1900NW  on  Sat Apr 24, 2010  at  03:18 AM
well you know whats bad about this? o.o you all make this sound fun XD hallucinations =3 i never had one before. course there would be a much safer way and that would be to eat a bunch of nutmeg (cant remember what show i got it off of, im thinking Burn Notice). though i know i heard nutmeg, if eaten to much in one setting can cause it also. though sleep deprivation might also be fun. have 2 friends to take regular shifts in keeping watch over me and try to stay up as long as possible untill i hit hallucination time =D then i will keep a daily log book on how im feeling... i wanna get a laugh out of it if i happen to write something crazy lol. though im gonna wait till school ends. WOOOO im pumped for this now =D
Posted by Henry  in  Pittsburg, KS  on  Thu May 13, 2010  at  12:06 PM
Hello, I was reading this thread and I thought I would post something of interest.

On the night of June 30, 1992, Before I killed one of my last victims, I was awake for at least 45 hours. If not more. This made me start to see things..

Strange things..

And that's what lead to my killing of Jeremiah Weinberger on July 5th.

Thanks for your time.
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer
(Jeffrey Dahmer)
Posted by Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer  in  Columbia Correctional Institution  on  Sat May 15, 2010  at  01:16 AM
last night was wensday and i couldnt fall asleep for one minute. Its 6:52 the next morning (thursday) and im going to school...i can easily go for 5 days without a problem because i cant sleep.
Posted by jiovanni  in  arizona  on  Thu May 20, 2010  at  07:53 AM
my longest was 12 days. i didnt tell nobody though because i didn't want them to know i was tweaked out of my skull. so ya, i hold the world record and i guess that's makes me pretty proud
Posted by bubba  in  mississippi  on  Fri May 21, 2010  at  01:33 AM
all this people saying they are currently on 3-4 days sleep and the one guy who said he has stayed up well beyond 11 days, that is a bunch of bull, every single one of them is lying, they just say that stuff cause its over the internet and they know they dont have to prove it, no one who commented can stay up 11 days, i guarantee it.
Posted by nick  in  usa  on  Fri May 21, 2010  at  07:25 AM
bubba, you are full of crap u didnt stay up 12 days, u expect someone to believe u stayed up 12 days but didnt tell anyone and that u really own the record, you are stupid, like i said u didnt stay up 12 days, thats bs
Posted by nick  in  usa  on  Fri May 21, 2010  at  07:29 AM
right now im tring to go 7 days so far ive got 75 hours out of the way and if you say you get less "sharp" thats happening to me so i have to be carefull when i get up to take a leak and i coudnt eaven type i got my sister to type for me!
Posted by backup moth  in  copterville  on  Sun May 23, 2010  at  02:39 AM
My personal record is 96.5 hours. I'm going to build up to be able to do 100 easily then 150 then 200 and so on. If you want to keep updated on my progress add me on facebook. Just search xamarl varax. Tell me that you are adding me because of this post.
Posted by xamarl varax  in  australia.  on  Sun May 23, 2010  at  12:00 PM
wtf sterling bullock u say that u stayed up for 17 more hours but the time you posted them are only 3 mins apart!!! :p

(oh yh record = 50 hours whilst drunk)(constantly)
Posted by jesus  in  bed  on  Tue Jun 01, 2010  at  05:08 AM
I am currently only on like 17 hours not that much but it was a dare i got sometime today and i slept in so..
but if i go 120 hours (5 days) my family will pay me 20 bucks each (80 dollars) so i figure wtf ima do it 120 hours with 3 new video games... no problem right?......
Posted by the Insane Are In Me  in  magical sweet potatoe land  on  Wed Jun 09, 2010  at  04:38 AM
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