The Strange Case of the Man Who Never Slept

Adults spend about 25 years of their lifetime asleep, but not so for a Hungarian man named Paul Kern, who was wounded in the line of duty in 1915 during World War I. Kern was shot in the head, with the bullet piercing his cranium and causing serious damage. After being rescued, he received treatment and regained consciousness after the bullet was removed. From that point on, he never slept a wink. The bullet had destroyed part of his frontal lobe. His curious condition made him the subject of several intense tests by brain and nerve specialists throughout Europe, but none could ever determine why his body no longer needed sleep. From the moment Kern opened his eyes after surgery and for the next 40 years, he said he never had the slightest desire to sleep. Apart from the occasional headache, Kern's brain mysteriously didn't require sleep as an essential form of rest. He reported that the many hours he spent awake in bed trying to lure sleep in, exhausted him more than staying awake. Later, he began a routine of laying down and closing his eyes for two hours every day. While he was completely alert and responsive during this time, experts think his brain was able to rest sufficiently for him to function seamlessly for the remainder of his active hours. Kern died as the result of an auto accident in 1943. No, he didn't fall asleep at the wheel.