Tony Wright had been awake 90 straight hours when he spoke with Sleep Review Thursday afternoon, May 17. The 43-year old Briton chose a local pub in which to pursue the world record for sleep deprivation, which now stands at 11 days.
Wright admits his self-experiment is less empirical research than a publicity stunt to draw interest in his book, “Left In The Dark.” Rather than undergo scrutiny by a blue-ribbon panel of scientists and clinicians, Wright has left the academic record to be administered by himself, a Webcam and one or two people who “keep an eye” on him to gauge his health and behavior.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable at the moment,” Wright said, speaking in a tone audibly deeper and more measured than when he first spoke with Sleep Review four days earlier.
“I’m feeling more relaxed and less tired that I did when I started, and I’m confident I’ll do seven or eight days as I’ve done before,” Wright said.
“But I’ve never done 11, so it may take me somewhere I’ve never been before,” he added.
In “Left In The Dark,” Wright draws on 16 years of his own research and hypothesizes that the dominant side of the brain does not develop as it should, saying that it functions less efficiently than it should and requires a disproportionate amount of sleep.
“It’s a reinterpretation of the cerebral asymmetry, cerebral dominance models, and the mechanisms that are thought to have driven the lesser expansion of the neo cortex, and why it stopped expanding.
“I proposed it was a neuroendocrine feedback loop that was driving all of this.”
Wright added that by depriving himself of sleep, he would stimulate the unused portions of the brain to engage and force a shift in dominance.
Wright says the greatest liability of setting his experiment in a pub is being the only non-drinker in a crowd of revelers. “It drives a sense of separation, really,” he says.
To prepare for his drive at the world record, Wright consumed what he calls a primate-like diet of raw foods, fruits, leaves, nuts and seeds. He has adhered to the diet for the last 16 years, he says.