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


Um, to the person who listed symptoms of not sleeping... blacking out pretty much counts as sleep so game over right there.

I do know that the best strategy is to have someone keep track of time for you. I've stayed up longer when I didn't care, or wasn't trying to stay up on purpose. Usually I'm told "wow you have been up for X days, aren't you tired?!" by another person.

The trick is probably to keep your mind busy, with as little effort as possible. Good luck with that, and the freakish diet that would be ideal for trying to break this crazy record.
Posted by Dude  on  Wed Jun 09, 2010  at  05:11 AM
they said that i am not eligible for a trial because they say that this is a sleep disorder, like it was hard to have a doctor consulting me,this is a fraud to,it's like that everyway you try to make a difference
Posted by Aneb1990  in  Buzau  on  Wed Jun 09, 2010  at  03:12 PM
i seriously have no idea what im doing this i just thought it would be fun but it is currently 1:30 on thursday afternoon and the last time i slept was yesterday at like 6:30 before my mom wok me up. btw, thats 31hrs. ill try for two weeks since yesterday was the last day of school. haha! this is what ive been waiting for! haha! and im not really all that tired, actually. LOL
Posted by shyannayanna  in  jewell, OR  on  Thu Jun 10, 2010  at  02:33 PM
Rediculous... Any of the studies should have the test subject checked for any medcations in his body. mainly speed. I know people who have stayd awake for weeks... sure they crashed, slept for 3 days straight, was extremely sick from not eating, malnurished heavily, dehydrated.... get the point?

Not a good idea to stay up.

Im on day 4 or 5 no sleep ( i forget which one and i am already slightly hallucinating (nothing like acid or mushrooms stuff just moves slightly), but im still detoxing off morphine...and naturally my body goes nuts and hurts and keeps its self from sleep. klonopin and trazadone ( benzodiazaoine and a sedative) do not help at all right now as I have been taking 100mg trazadone and and anywhere from 4-6mg of klonopon a day ( well approximately a 24 hours period)

Its not fun staying up for days. its rediculous. There are SOOO many drugs to help you stay awake, keep your body retaining water for health reasons, lowering your metabolizm, not to mention you WILL have to recover from this... IT will be hard to eat, piss, drink, you will be weak, you will hallcinate during the process.

If there was no doctor to draw blood and check for drugs, and no one monitoring the patient EVERY second then everything they have all done is in vain.

IMHO--- bad idea, Dont do it. Not worth the time and energy. Not to mention your bowels will hate you and hurt. Oh ya, you will slowly become disoriented and angry...easily adjitated, panic attacks may occure. And if your a diabetic you WILL start forgetting to check your level ( very dangerous for a diabetic)

but good luck to those who want to stay awake for no reason...

Im going to bed...
Posted by Verybadidea...nor did doctors correctly monitor pa  on  Thu Jun 10, 2010  at  04:18 PM
i stayed awake most of tonight.........im 11 and its 5:08 im almost seeing sunrise......prey for me gosh....... gulp
Posted by Emma  in  alabama  on  Tue Jun 15, 2010  at  04:09 AM
I am currently starting day 5 of no sleep. i want to sleep just cant.
Posted by Lane  in  Lewiston  on  Sun Jun 20, 2010  at  01:20 AM
Yeah? Well I'm going to stay up for 7083652 days so you all lose. End of story
Posted by Evan  in  Kansas  on  Mon Jun 21, 2010  at  01:54 AM
hmmm um no lie but i just turned 13 yrs old n Ive stayed up for 7days straight...until my mother made me go to bed.i honestly don't see how it is so hard to stay up... i wuz going to go for the record but my mom said no.by the way that was the best summer break ever. all i needed was TV, internet,a Nintendo ds , and a phone. for whoever breaks the record, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! cheese
Posted by Brianna  in  chicago,Il  on  Wed Jun 23, 2010  at  10:34 PM
me and my friend r trying 3 days
we r going to drink venom energy, ALOT of coke, chocolote, jerky, and sweet sweet tea!
do u think we could stay up longer"? were pretty young.
Posted by tickmen  in  Texas  on  Thu Jun 24, 2010  at  09:03 AM
I've mastered 94 hours without sleep. I can do this pretty easily, it;s just an annoyance. the reason I can do this is because insomnia does not allow me to sleep normally.
Posted by JustChris  on  Fri Jun 25, 2010  at  02:58 PM
lol, ive been awake for like 3 days now and im still pretty awake mentally, my body is hella tired though, longest for me was a little over a month but i was on an lsd binge of too many hits so take for granted but yeah. w/e i was bored raspberry
Posted by madscurrvy  in  orem,utah,usa  on  Sat Jun 26, 2010  at  04:17 AM
Right now I'm going for the 3 day challenge and longer if so. It's gonna be fun-Cj
Posted by C.J. Wood  in  Robinson Tx  on  Sun Jun 27, 2010  at  12:12 AM
Well me and my cousin. Are gonna stay up for around 14 days atleast we are going to try and stay up for that long lol been 3 days now!
Posted by Ayman  in  Canada  on  Sat Jul 10, 2010  at  04:28 AM
wow its so stupid to stay up that long im gonna try to stay up to feel the hallucinations
Posted by Ty Nguyen  in  Cochrane, Alberta (near calgary)  on  Tue Jul 20, 2010  at  02:05 AM
The longest I've stayed awake-ish was apparently approx. 168hrs, although during that time I suffered from sleep lapses that lasted anywhere from half a second to approx. 2 minutes which freaked me out to no end. You turn around and suddenly everything's changed. Without sleep lapses I made it approx. 120hrs without sleep. I suffered hallucinations, tremors, bladder problems, etc. But even after i finally slept I suffered long-term problems that I'm not going to get into, but will only get worse. This is all because I suffer from a genetic disorder that causes severe chronic insomnia. I know of people who have gone much llonger than me without sleep and who are now dead as a result. Anyone who tries to do it to break a record is an idiot, partly because its a dumb thing to inflict on yourself, but also because you'll never beat the record and survive.
Posted by Chris J  on  Thu Jul 22, 2010  at  07:45 PM
The longest i've ever stayed awake is 76 hours, and that was a couple months ago...I wasnt tired until I passed out, lol.
Imma try to beat the record though...Because im bored and have no life...And the summers gotta go out with a bang :D
Posted by Riz  on  Thu Jul 22, 2010  at  08:25 PM
I have done 72 hours so far and i am using movies, ice cold showers, walks, and loud music as my motivator. Wish me Luck.
Posted by Kacy  on  Fri Jul 23, 2010  at  01:40 AM
i stayed awake 265 hrs. im fcking tired i need coffee
Posted by Close to world record!  in  Florida  on  Sat Jul 24, 2010  at  02:45 AM
my longest is 52 , hours I often do 40 hours work and all, I do get good sleep the weekend , but I would nt attempt to stay awake on purpose , might do some funky stuff to your head long term
Posted by derek  in  dublin  on  Sun Jul 25, 2010  at  09:03 PM
I have stayed up passed that me and my sister both stayed up for a little over 2 weeks cool mad
Posted by dyakn york  in  southport nc  on  Sun Aug 01, 2010  at  06:29 PM
When I was doing my B. Tech., I slept only for around 16 hours in six days during my 5th semester final exams. After it was over, I tried to sleep, but couldn't. :( Then, to pass time I played Counter Strike on Hostel LAN whole night and visited some local places with my friends next day. That makes 16 hours sleep in seven days. Then I was able to sleep at 9:30 PM, and woke up at 7:30 PM next day i.e. I slept for 22 hours, without any break. I took several 12+ hours sleep for a few days after.
Usually I gave all my exams in the same fashion, but this experience was the best to post here.
Posted by Adarsh  in  Bhopal / India  on  Mon Aug 02, 2010  at  05:17 AM
I know it's not that long but the longest I've stayed up is 26:00.00 hours. Yes, thats right, I stayed up exactly 26 hours. It was on New Year's Eve 12/31/09. I woke up at 8:45am Dec. 31 and went to sleep at 10:45am Jan. 1

smile wink smile wink smile wink smile wink smile
Posted by Matt  in  Hollywood  on  Tue Aug 03, 2010  at  07:29 PM
PS: I'm only 12 and when I went to sleep I only slept for 4 hours and then I was back on the proper sceduele.
Posted by Matt  in  Hollywood  on  Tue Aug 03, 2010  at  09:10 PM
i dont know why you allow idiots to comment on this subject,try it and then laugh
Posted by Iosif Alexandru  in  Romania  on  Wed Aug 04, 2010  at  08:03 AM
I'm going to stay awake 30 hours in order to get into a normal routine again. If I have a vacation, I tend to go into a routine of sleeping all day, and being awake at night. It's not healthy and it's pretty lonely too. So I've decided it's been enough. I can't just sit here on the computer the entire night and sleep while everyone's outside having fun. I've been awake for only 13 hours and it's 4:32 am. had my alarm clock on 10am, but I woke up at 3pm, psh. >_>

So yeah, I'm going to stay awake until, say... 9 PM tomorrow?

Wish me luck!
Posted by Yentl  in  Netherlands  on  Fri Aug 06, 2010  at  08:33 PM
Well its been 3546hours since i slept still awaking and playing halo. Hit me up im Mr. Anderson i sell u my secrets smile
Posted by Mr Anderson  in  Matrix  on  Mon Aug 09, 2010  at  11:43 PM
i just take meth amphetamines or trips and i easily stay awake around 8 days even with a 50 hour a week job could go longer with ease but i enjoy sleeping for 24 hours when u wake u feel absolutely awesome and besides u have plenty of time to sleep when u are dead
Posted by Gibbo90  on  Mon Aug 16, 2010  at  02:06 AM
This is hour number 43 and I still can't sleep Idk why tho I've never had a problem with sleep before :(
Posted by Waseem  in  Toronto, ontario  on  Thu Aug 19, 2010  at  03:28 AM
Doctors urge us we should not stick to "sleep debt" as likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and even psychosis. I try not to break these tips.
Posted by Banu Anda  in  Buzau  on  Wed Sep 08, 2010  at  05:18 AM
i am currently on my 9th hour and i plan on sleeping when i get tired wish me luck everyone c:
Posted by Joe  in  Indiana  on  Sat Oct 16, 2010  at  11:46 PM
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