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


i wana try2beat that ive stay awake for 3days straight b4 and 24hrs is easy so i wanna try this lol how would i attempt it i woke up at 1:38PM today (july 15) smile this should be a test 2 see my longest Then i will try for the RECORED
Posted by ryanb silbaugh  in  Middlefield,OH - or - Rock Creek,OH  on  Wed Jul 15, 2009  at  02:57 PM
i Have stayed awake for 265 hourse then i just past out on my bed
Posted by cam  in  topsham  on  Sat Jul 18, 2009  at  12:28 AM
Jerry: thanks for the good contribution of information =)

Ryanb Silbough: its spelled RECORD, maybe try learning to check your typing would be a good start, as Jerry pointed out you must be prepared for this otherwise you just wouldn't cope with it. Try working your way up, because the record is a lot to just jump in and try. Train your body to be awake without sleep. Don't use drugs like caffeine or amphetamines to force it otherwise it wouldn't count (obviously).

Cam: 256 hours? I find it hard to believe because you didn't give much detail, that's over 10 days and nights without sleep. And, whilst I have done just over a week on many occasions, I have provided information such as the fact I have recurrent insomnia and have used drugs and I also provided a list of side effects that I had, and I have suggested some that can happen.

People, take a leaf out of Jerry & My book. We contributed detailed information on our own part and opinion, rather than just "omg I stayed up for two weeks then went to sleep".
The internet used to be a place of intellect (and pornography).
...now its just pornography, illiteracy and pointless rantings. NOW it is contributing to the dumbing down of society, the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what, in my and many other's opinion, it was initially intended for.
Iam however all for freedom of speech and expression, but that kind of malarky is hardly expression. More mindless shite.
Thanks all and please, continue to post regardless of what I've just said. Just think when your posting and put some effort in. Hell, I typed this out on a tiny keyboard on my G1 mobile phone.

Posted by darksider  in  scotland  on  Sat Jul 18, 2009  at  03:30 AM
This is probably really old and outdated, but I had to say it. The people who have been saying they've stayed up for x amount of time, and are posting about it, are probably talking crap. The longest I'd say you could stay awake and come to this website is 2 to 3 days max.
Posted by Periculosus  in  Umm  on  Thu Jul 23, 2009  at  02:23 AM
On a side note however my record is 2 days, almost to the minute.
Posted by Periculosus  in  Umm  on  Thu Jul 23, 2009  at  02:26 AM
When I was in the Royal Australian Artillery I would often stay awake for multiple days purely because wewere too busy- I have a strong memory of falling asleep whilst pack marching...apparently i just kept walking for another 20 meters of so out of formation before i collapsed.

as for longest time awake, id have to be honest and say I have no idea of the exact hours, but id say around the 4 day mark before i finally collapsed...

so, my suggestions to anyone attempting to complete this record.

-keep well fueled, ie eat well and rink plenty of water. your body chews more energy the longer your awake.

- keep your mind active. when your not able to do interactive "hands on" things, start singing. when that gets boring, try mixing the lyrics of songs with tunes from other songs. it all helps.

-dont just sit at home. get into the sunshine, go for a walk, the vitamin e you absorb from the sunlight releases endorphins, which relax the mind and make you happy, without putting you to sleep.

- after 2 days, get a friend to check you every few hours. after 3, have someone at least in the same house. after 4, id suggest have someone keep an eye on you at all times.

I this all helps, and remember, this is not somthing I would recommend doing- I only did it because I had no choice in the matter.
Posted by Ashley Doran  in  Townsville Australia  on  Thu Jul 23, 2009  at  07:38 PM
Uh whats the point to stay up that long?! The most ive stayed awake is like 23 hours

And i like passed out haha
jezzzzz u can never get lost sleep back!
After that i slept all day and night and was still Exhausted!!!

Theres no point!
Posted by Lauren  in  USA  on  Fri Jul 24, 2009  at  10:31 AM
The whole intentional sleep deprivation experiments are absolutely crazy. wink I can barely function pulling an all-nighter for classes--like today. I have an exam and a presentation to give and I'm crossing my fingers after waking up only 20 hours ago.

As for unintentional lack of sleep, I watched a video on YouTube about a man who had some disease where a part of his brain wasn't functioning properly so that there was no way his body could fall asleep. He was awake for multitudes of month. I can't remember, but maybe it was 6 months. Of course, his body deteriorated, he couldn't think, speak, eat...no function whatsoever. It's such a sad way to die. You should search it.

I watched a video on Peter Tripp's experiment with a sleepless spree. Search that on YouTube. His body was noted to have been asleep although we was still actively on air talking and responding logically to those speaking to him. He actually experienced lasting effects, though. His personality was forever altered and because of it was forced to resign from his job as a radio personality...and that was just a little over one week. I cannot believe someone could go without it much longer and still function normally. Wow.
Posted by Amanda  in  Chillicothe, OH  on  Mon Jul 27, 2009  at  05:47 AM
i stayed up for 10 days and trying to break te world record wish meluck
Posted by matty101  in  altoona, PA  on  Thu Jul 30, 2009  at  03:13 AM
Wow, I'm trying to see how long I can stay awake... So far I've got 53 hours done. And school started today.
Posted by Matt  in  California  on  Mon Aug 03, 2009  at  10:48 PM
I have been awake for two months now and I'm not even tired. Pfft. Pussies. EXTACY YA BABYYYYY
Posted by chewba  in  Alberta, Canada  on  Fri Aug 07, 2009  at  05:45 PM
ive stayed awake 4 almost 12 days now its amazing!
Posted by Briana  in  nebraska  on  Thu Aug 13, 2009  at  08:21 PM
this is bs i knew heeps of ppl doing meth and well i was 1 of them i know personly i stayd up for 2 weeks or more and uthers stayd up for a month or more and more in prtantly theez ppl i speek of r so parinoid of the docters and so on that im sure the record hasent bin beetin cuz thay to frightind to go on record

and for the record i will not go for the record i spent the last 4 years deeling with the cravings for the drug and finaly got a handl on the sycosis i dont want to relive hell and most ppl that reech evan day 7 will understan wut dark matter is
Posted by cidkid1  in  victoria bc  on  Fri Aug 14, 2009  at  05:01 AM
Ive been awake for like a week so far i dont feel tired though.
Posted by Hobo Joe  in  Japan  on  Tue Aug 18, 2009  at  11:22 PM
I stayed awake for one hour,man im seeing unicorns with bright horns and... here i go fairy land! wooo so tired g'nite.
Posted by BIG RED TRUCK  in  MY ANUS  on  Sun Aug 23, 2009  at  02:20 PM
so ive bin up for 28 hours, trying to beat my reacord of 37, n i feel great, i feel very crappy but in a goodway.
Posted by Brandon  in  canada  on  Thu Sep 03, 2009  at  06:44 PM
on friday my best friend had a slumber party and we all stayed up for 24 hours. then one of my friends fell asleep for like 5 or 10 minutes. and when she woke up my other friend fell asleep for like 2 or 3 hours. we never did fall asleep at the party though. then she came over to my house and i stayed awake for 38 1/2 hours straight and she stayed awake for 40 hours straight! we both beat our records woooh!!
Posted by Addy Parker  in  Los Angeles  on  Sun Sep 20, 2009  at  04:37 PM
i was awake for 12 days 19 hours over the summer.. what do i have to do to get this in the book?
Posted by Ryan  in  US  on  Mon Oct 05, 2009  at  09:34 PM
i remember when i went for the world record once. i started halucinating and ended up starting a fire in an attempt to thwart the weebles from turning off gravity, also i blacked out at one point and came to with blood on me and i was naked. the worst part was when it was over i found out that i had emptied my bank account and wrecked my brothers car. yea that was the craziest 13 hours i ever stayed awake for.
Posted by mr.jack j. mehoff  in  florida, amerka  on  Thu Oct 08, 2009  at  11:25 PM
i know no one is going to believe this but i havent slept for over two years....i was abducted by an extraterrestrial spaceship and they experimented on my anus....they dropped me off at my house and i havent been able to sleep since, i need help! my raccoon eyes look, well you can only imagine.
Posted by Mikey  in  SAN diego  on  Mon Oct 12, 2009  at  11:54 AM
Um, yeah, everyone has different natural sleeping patterns. True, the percentage of the majority who need sleep every night is so high that it's assumed that everyone needs that sleep, but not everyone does. I sleep naturally for somewhere between 2 and 6 hours every other night and I don't have hallucinations, I'm not depressed, and I've been sleeping like this since I was 10. I don't have any mental shortcomings because of this, I'm a 16 and attending college, and the most that has happened to me is a slightly weaker than normal immune system, but my doctor couldn't confirm if I was that way naturally or if I'm that way because of the sleep deprivation. When I do have those 'no-sleep' spells that everyone gets no and then, I go for about 4 or 5 days without sleep, which sucks. But my normal sleeping schedule of every other day works fine for me.
Posted by Ashley  in  Reno  on  Wed Oct 14, 2009  at  11:07 AM
All i have to say is this is bs... if you guys want to find out who has stayed out the longest and should be in the guinness book of world records. Just take a visit to your local meth head and im sure its beyond weeks...

I've heard storys of people staying up for MONTHS on meth...

Hitler didn't create it to make you go to sleep...
Posted by Caleb Wolcenski  in  maple grove, minnesota  on  Tue Oct 20, 2009  at  02:48 PM
this is my 4th day up and now i am starting 2 c things caint think at all ppl ask me questions and i get confused its just a weird feeling it is fun 2 test ur self but it also can be vry bad 4 u in 1hr im going 2 bed kindda miss sleeping lol smile gud luck 2 all
Posted by bobo  in  ireland  on  Tue Nov 10, 2009  at  02:12 AM
The longest I've done is 91 hours. I'm planning on attempting to break 100 hours in the coming month because of winter break
Posted by It  in  The Hidden Place  on  Wed Dec 02, 2009  at  04:40 PM
people u know staying awake is bad for u
do yall care about health not to be mean but this website is pretty dumb its really realllllllly bad for u do yall under stand
Posted by holly  in  ca  on  Sat Dec 05, 2009  at  09:11 AM
I stayed up for a full week once during the summer and I was perfectly fine. I'm gonna try to stay up for two weeks this coming summer. Wish me luck!
Posted by Caesar  on  Sat Dec 05, 2009  at  12:36 PM
I've been awake for 80 hours now, and thanks to the nature of having several projects during finals week, I have at least another day ahead of me. Oh how fun it is to be a senior in college...
My diet curently consists of nothing more than Adderall and Monster.
Posted by College Kid  in  Clarkson  on  Wed Dec 09, 2009  at  08:21 PM
I could never stay awake that long cheese
Posted by alison  in  topeka  on  Tue Dec 22, 2009  at  09:34 AM
yo i need the most resent 2009 no sleep record cause I'm 17 going on 18 and I'm willing to break it I've been training for it and so far I'm able to stay up for 16 days please help me out so I can train more if I need to thanks cool grin
Posted by Adam Holmes  in  Tyler Tx  on  Tue Dec 29, 2009  at  05:21 AM
Yea, im gonna give this a go, 15 days no probs...

how do i get the guinness guys in to gimme 10k for it?

also double checking its still allowed to be attempted with the 'record harmful to health' malarkee?

any infos helpful smile this should be good
Posted by Drego / Anders  in  Basingstoke, England  on  Sun Jan 03, 2010  at  09:04 PM
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