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24 September 2014

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You are in: Cornwall > Features > About Cornwall > Sleepless in Penzance

Tony Wright breaks the world record

Sleepless in Penzance

Tony Wright from Penzance has managed to break the world sleep deprivation record set by Randy Gardener 43 years ago, by staying awake for more that 11 days. People around the world watched his progress on a live webcam when he began on May 14.

At 6.00am on May 14 2007, Tony Wright, began his quest to break the 43 year old world sleep deprivation record. The event took place at The Studio Bar in Penzance Cornwall and people from around the world logged on the the live webcam to watch him.

On Friday May 25, at around 6.15am the Studio Bar erupted into cheer as Tony Wright broke the current record of 264 hours (11 days) which was set by 17 year old Randy Gardner in 1964 as part of a student science project in San Diego.

From that moment, the phone rang continuously whilst Tony Wright was being interviewed for all the local TV and radio stations.

After the interviews were over, Tony was taken home by friends so that he could get some well deserved rest and although it has yet to be confirmed it is believed that the new record now stands at 266 hours.

Cheered on by his friends and family

Since completing the record breaking event, thousands of people have viewed BBC News online, making it the most read story in Europe.

Listen to the BBC Radio Cornwall interview with Tony Wright, after counting down the seconds to his record breaking achievement:

Take a look at a gallery of pictures from the moment that record was broken:

During the attempt, Tony wrote an exclusive online diary for BBC Radio Cornwall. Read it here:

Apart from looking a little weary - which most of us would, after even a night without sleep - he was in very good spirits and chatted competently about the experience, even choosing to stand rather than sit.

Tony's record attempt forms part of his research into human sleep. He has proposed that each side of the human brain requires a different amount of sleep and that, with appropriate preparation, it is possible to stay awake and remain functional for long periods.

Being interviewed by local news

Being interviewed by local news teams

Living on a primate-like diet of carrot juice, bananas, avocados, pineapple and nuts his research implies that the biochemistry, once abundant in our evolutionary past was essential for our brain to develop its full potential.

Tony says of the experience; "I went through a few tricky moments where I could feel my body wanting to shut down and I knew that I had to get up and stimulate myself to keep going, but most of the time I felt ok."

While it may seem counterintuitive or irrational, going without sleep to access more refined and functional consciousness states has been part of the mystic tradition for millennia. Tony is hoping that the record attempt will shed light on this and other enigmas of the human mind.

See video and audio during Tony's record breaking attempt:

To find out more visit Tony's website:

last updated: 22/04/2008 at 12:00
created: 09/05/2007

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