Some researchers have suggested that humans don’t actually need sleep to function or survive. They argue that it’s just something left over from times when we Hunter gatherers & sleep server the function of keeping us hidden & still, away from predators for a set period each night.
Peter Tripp, an American DJ, put this to the test in 1959 when he attempted to stay awake for 201 straight hours & broadcast continually from a glass box in Times Square.
He was observed by scientists & doctors throughout & initially seemed to be coping well. However, by day three he was hallucinating (e.g. he thought there were spiders in his shoes) & brain wave patterns mirrored those of REM sleep. Scientists concluded that he was experiencing dreams whilst awake.
Tripp completed the experiment & afterwards slept for 13 hours straight. Friends & family commented that he was never the same afterwards & suffered because of the experiment. Not long after he lost his job, became divorced & eventually became a travelling salesman.
Is this experiment relevant today?
What can it tell us?