We spend a third of our lives sleeping. It is one of our most basic needs. Studies have shown that adequate sleep promotes immune function, healing and much more. Sleeping is such an innate drive that people will actually choose it over eating.
A good night’s sleep is one of life’s sweetest blessings. And yet, nobody knows what sleep really is–not even neuroscientists.
You’ve probably heard that we need to do it in order to stay sane, to stay alive, but beyond that, much of its exact function still remains a mystery. When people don’t get enough sleep, they begin to hallucinate and go slightly crazy. Sleep deprivation paints a very stark picture. It can result in psychotic episodes and breakdowns, pre-sleep twilight, weight loss, dementia, paranoia, and yes, even death.
If you happen to suffer from bouts of insomnia, then you know just how important it is to get some shut eye. You’ll also be able to sympathize with the subject of this bizarre medical case from 1915. He is one of the only known people to have ever survived without sleep for an extended period of time.
During the First World War, Paul Kern, a Hungarian soldier, was shot in the head. After recovering from the frontal lobe injury, he was no longer able to fall asleep or become drowsy, not even with narcotics, sedatives, or hypnotism. Doctors initially told him that he wouldn’t live very long, but they were shocked to discover they were completely wrong.
Kern thrived. Instead of sleeping, he would simply lie down and close his eyes to rest from time to time. He went on to live a healthy, abundant life and survive without sleep for 40 years, until his death in 1955.
The incident occurred in 1915. A Russian bullet pierced his cranium and Mr Kern fell unconscious on the battle field. The wound was serious, the bullet having removed part of his frontal lobe.
After being rescued, Kern received medical treatment at Lemberg hospital. Finally, after an operation to remove the bullet, he regained consciousness.
And from the point on, until his death in 1955 – Mr Kern did not sleep.
After his initial treatment the patient moved to Budapest, where he became the subject of intense testing by brain and nerve specialists throughout Europe. Unable to trace from X-ray examinations any abnormality, the experts could not begin to fathom the cause of his unusual condition.
‘From the moment Mr Kern opened his eyes in Lemberg he did not slept; nor, indeed, did he the slightest desire to do so,’ said Dr. Frey, a noted University professor, who observed the case for years.
Curiously, apart from an occasional headache, Kern did not suffer from the lack of sleep.
His work as a government administrator did not reveal the slightest signs of deterioration. At first, it was reported, he did try to sleep. However, the hours of wakefulness lying in bed exhausted him more than actually staying awake
In the end Kern did begin a routine of laying down and closing his eyes for 2 hours a day. Although he was completely responsive during these hours, experts believe that his brain was able to rest sufficiently enough during this period, in order for him to function normally for the remaining 40 years of his life. This is how a man can goeo 40 Years without sleep.