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A Man Goes 40 Years Without Sleep

Paul Kern Newspaper Cutting

If you suffer from the odd spell of insomnia, you will empathise with the subject of this following strange story. Never in the history of known medical ailments had anyone literally gone without sleep for an extended period of time.

That is until a Hungarian Government Official named Paul Kern was shot in the head on the Eastern Front in WW1.

The incident occurred in 1915. A Russian bullet pierced his cranium and Mr Kern fell unconscious on the battle field. The wound was serious, the bullet having removed part of his frontal lobe.

After being rescued, Kern received medical treatment at Lemberg hospital. Finally, after an operation to remove the bullet, he regained consciousness.

And from the point on, until his death in 1955 – Mr Kern did not sleep.

After his initial treatment the patient moved to Budapest, where he became the subject of intense testing by brain and nerve specialists throughout Europe. Unable to trace from X-ray examinations any abnormality, the experts could not begin to fathom the cause of his unusual condition.

‘From the moment Mr Kern opened his eyes in Lemberg he did not slept; nor, indeed, did he the slightest desire to do so,’ said Dr. Frey, a noted University professor, who observed the case for years.

Frontal lobe
The bullet destroyed part of Kern’s frontal lobe causing him to never need sleep again.

Curiously, apart from an occasional headache, Kern did not suffer from the lack of sleep.

His work as a government administrator did not reveal the slightest signs of deterioration. At first, it was reported, he did try to sleep. However, the hours of wakefulness lying in bed exhausted him more than actually staying awake

In the end Kern did begin a routine of laying down and closing his eyes for 2 hours a day. Although he was completely responsive during these hours, experts believe that his brain was able to rest sufficiently enough during this period, in order for him to function normally for the remaining 40 years of his life. This is how a man can goeo 40 Years without sleep.

[Source: Vimeo]