In 1959, the famous DJ Peter Tripp decided to raise money for charity in an unusual way. The 32-year-old Tripp entered into a glass room in the middle of Times Square in New York. He decided to work on his radio show for 8 days without sleep in an experiment called “wakeathon”.
During the first two days, Tripp amused his audience with entertaining broadcast. The third day they noticed a change in his mood. He became aggressive towards his colleagues. Then, Tripp began to hallucinate that his shoes were full of spider webs and people are made of worms.
After 120 hours, he jumped from the building because he was hallucinating that there was fire. Suddenly, he began to accuse people that they wanted to kill him. He could not remember the alphabet. He was barely awake for eight days. However, doctors said that it was enough time to cause “nocturnal psychosis”. After 13-hour sleep, Tripp returned to normal.
What happened after 24 hours?
Although Tripp looked normal after the first sleepless night, not sleeping for 24 hours can be compared to having 10% blood alcohol content.
When 36 hours passed, the Tripp’s memory was damaged. Research has shown that people who have been awake so long had trouble remembering the faces of their friends and were convinced that they didn’t make mistakes.
After two sleepless days, he started to have episodes of microsleep. These episodes appear due to strong desire for sleep and last for a fraction of a second or up to thirty seconds.
Death from sleep deprivation?
Lack of sleep can cause diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer or depression. Can it cause death? It’s hard to say. In 2014, 25-year-old man died after being awake for 48 hours.
In any case, staying awake for 24 hours is not a good idea.