In 1963, a teen in San Diego named Randy Gardner had an idea for a science fair project: He would see how long he could stay awake. By the end of the experiment, he had been up for 264 hours.
That’s 11 days.
Gardner had set a record for the longest period without sleep. But along the way, he was not quite himself. He became moody, forgetful, paranoid. At one point, he mistook a street sign for a person. On day four, he thought he was a running back for the San Diego Chargers.
You probably don’t have plans to stay up for 11 days straight like Gardner did, but if you’re like most kids, you probably stay up too late. Teenagers need about nine hours of sleep a night. Yet the majority of teens don’t get anywhere near that. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73 percent of American high school students and 58 percent of middle school students surveyed aren’t getting enough sleep.
Kids aren’t the only ones who are tired either. According to a 2019 study*, more than one-third of American adults are sleep deprived too.