The legend of the Russian dream experiment or what would happen if we never slept
Sleep is one of the greatest pleasures of life and there are not many comparable experiences to get up after a two-hour nap (in which you have had time to dream) without knowing what day of the year it is or in which city on the globe you are exactly. In the moments that we suffer insomnia is when we really realize how fundamental is the rest for our body, and while we eat a roof with our eyes open, unable to fall into a state of drowsiness, a question stalks us: How much has it been the most of the time that a person has gone without sleep?
No one really knows for sure, but the recorded record of the person who has been awake for the longest time (without using stimulant drugs for it) is that of Randy Gardner in 1965, when he was 17, after spending 264 hours (that is, about 11 days) without sleep. He was not sick or anything out of the ordinary happened to him, he simply did it to overcome the mark that at that time held a Honolulu DJ. I wanted to enter the 'Guinness book of records'. His cognitive and sensory abilities began to be affected with the passing of the days, according to 'BBC', the nights were the most difficult because he had to try to stay active and once he managed to beat the record he slept for 14 hours in a row.
A true story?
What exactly does that mean that your cognitive and sensory abilities begin to be affected? There is a terrifying urban legend that has to do with it and is known as 'The Russian dream experiment'. We go back to the 40s during the Cold WarWhen, allegedly, one of the darkest and most cruel experiments in history was carried out. A gas had just been patented that supposedly could eradicate the need for sleep of human beings, but first they had to be tested with patients who lent themselves to it. Investigators held five political prisoners who had been convicted of treason crime awake for 15 days. Locked up in a small room, researchers could monitor their activity at all times.
The prisoners were supposedly locked up for 15 days without sleep. They had hallucinations and some skin and vocal cords were torn off
Apparently, they were fine during the first five days, but thereafter they acted very strangely. The subjects began to suspect each other. On the ninth day, one of them started screaming and tore the vocal cords. The legend continues telling a lot of strange and eschatological anecdotes that, it is supposed, happened to the patients, until everything went quietly and the doctors, worried that they did not listen to anything, decided to open the room and enter to see what was happening. On the 15th there were only four of them left alive and their own skin was torn off. The experiment failed resoundingly.
Of course, there is no documentation about this experiment and it is only a story that runs the 'creepypasta' internet forums. However, although we would not have to tear off our skin, we know that sleeping is vital for the human being and we continuously hear that we need seven to eight hours of sleep. There is a rare genetic mutation known as fatal family insomnia, a condition that causes, in addition to the insomnia that the name indicates, hallucinations, anxiety, fever, difficulties in walking or speaking and finally dementia or death.
The most that someone has been without sleep has been 11 days. If we tried, we would suffer symptoms similar to Alzheimer's
If we did not sleep for a certain time (for example, one week), we would not only witness noticeable changes in our physical appearance such as dark circles, tics or skin inflammations, we would also have auditory and visual hallucinations, extreme tiredness and even symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease, since the functioning of the basic parts of our brain would begin to slow down.
Sleep is essential for the correct development and growth of the body, repair tissues or increase antibody production that improve our immune system. Therefore, the conclusion is that if you ever want to be part of the Guinness of records (which is very licit and we will not deny you), it is better for something different to spend many hours without sleep: having longer nails, transporting as many beer mugs as possible or shooting with the largest water gun of the world are ideas that seem more fun and healthy.