The people who reportedly never sleep. Ever

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I think when the Sleepless decided to take over the world in Nancy Kress’ “Beggars in Spain” it sort of drifted away, but the first 100-150 pages of that book – about a generation of children modified so they did not sleep – was really pretty cool.

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You’d think researchers looking at FFI would be interested in taking a look at Thái Ngọc.

While Fatal familial insomnia is deadly, this does not prove that all long-term insomnia is invariably fatal – FFI damages the thalamus which causes the resulting insomnia, and it is this thalamus damage which leads to death, not insomnia itself.

Sure, sleep deprivation studies show direct health effects and sleep deprived rats die in 2-5 weeks, but do they die from no sleep, or from the stress of being forced to stay awake? I don’t know of any studies of sleep deprivation that accomplish deprivation without stress and/or damage to the thalamus.

Assuming Thái Ngọc does not have sleep state misperception, perhaps an MRI could answer some questions?


Compare Beggars in Spain with Charlie Huston’s Sleepless, where insomnia is a prion disease, or Kenneth Calhoun’s Black Moon, where the sleep-starved hunt down and kill sleepers (almost like an inversion of Omega Man).

Of these novels, I liked Black Moon the best.

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I spent years having this problem - every night, it would take me hours to fall asleep. I’d spend hours lying there, thrashing around because I couldn’t get comfortable. I had two sleep studies done. In both of them, the technicians said there was nothing abnormal. They said the tapes showed me lying still and there were no strange readings on the EEG. I wasn’t sure if I believed them. I speculated that the insurance company had rigged things so they didn’t have to pay for any procedures to help me sleep better.

Last year I had a house guest who spent a week on an air mattress in the front room. I was still having the same problem - no matter when I went to bed, it seemed to take me hours to fall asleep. But she said that every night, when I racked out, he heard me snoring within minutes. A couple of times she looked in the room where I was, and said I was just lying there without moving. I know she had no reason to feed me a story.

The logical conclusion is, for years I’ve been going to sleep quickly, but then I spend hours dreaming that I’m thrashing about unable to sleep. Since my house guest left the problem has lessened, but it still happens now and then.


One of the members of legendary crazy person Captain Beefheart once said that of all the eccentric, insane things the Captain did, the looniest thing was his claim to have stayed awake for a full year. And his band members believed him!


Is this like the people who report that they live on “air” alone and do not eat or drink?



Not necessarily. While sleep is vital to most people’s well-being, it is conceivable for sentient organisms to function without it (e.g. some fish and aquatic mammals reportedly never fully sleep, resting only parts of their brains at a time). With over 7 billion human beings, it’s entirely statistically possible to get the oddly brain-wired exception to the rule every now and then. Unlike people violating the conservation of mass principle…


Shoot… the above was supposed to be a reply to you.

You must be getting tired.

The people who shared the journey remembered West. The following winter, describing the nasty northeaster over dinner, the captain remarked, "That follow West is a good man in a storm." The psychologist did not see West again, but remained curious about him. "He didn't sleep for four nights! Four whole nights." And if that trip had been his idea of a vacation, where, the psychologist wanted to know, did he work?

The Soul of a New Machine, from the prologue.

Should go somewhere where they measure time in seasons.


Yes, but dolphins do sleep, do experience slow-wave activity, in their own particular way.

Yet if that’s what these humans are doing, then it could not be characterized as “Never sleeping. Ever.”


That’s an unusually candidly-named condition.

“I’m afraid you have Fatal Familial Insomnia”

“Is it serious?”

“Well, it’s not called OK Familial Insomnia”


They say Tyler Durden only sleeps one hour a night.


This sounds just like my daughter. She’ll swear she was up all night and couldn’t sleep, but whenever I’ve looked into her room, she’s out cold. Her sleep study was also perfectly normal.

I apparently do it, but only when I snore. My husband will nudge me and tell me I’m snoring, and I’ll indignantly say “I wasn’t even asleep!” and then roll over and go right back to sleep. Every. Time.


the edgar mitchel comment section does not work, btw. Delete this as needed!