Letters: Zzzzz …

The article on sleep [“Bedtime Story,” Spring 2009 On Wisconsin] was most interesting. I have often wondered if the reason we sleep at night might be because it is too dark to hunt or gather food.

Bill Hogoboom ’51
Madison

I’m married to a UW grad (Lisa Boom ’88), so I happened to see your article “Bedtime Story.”

Randy Gardner broke the world record for staying awake in 1964 (the event took place over Christmas vacation 1963–64, not 1976 as noted in the article). I was there. Randy, Bruce McAllister, and I were high school seniors doing the experiment for entry in the 1964 San Diego High School Science Fair. It was called a stunt at the time, and we were almost expelled from school, but it wasn’t a stunt! Bruce designed a rigorous suite of mental and physical response tests, which we administered every four to six hours during the entire eleven days.

[Randy] could have stayed awake longer. The experiment was terminated at 264 hours because Randy had definitively broken the existing record, and the attending physicians (and parents!) were strongly urging, “It’s time to go to sleep.” Bruce and I were pooped, too, as we slept two hours a night (in shifts) while monitoring Randy.

Joe Marciano
Santa Rosa, California

Your excellent article on sleep brought to mind my UW years, when raging sleep deficits, plus a genetic disorder called central nervous system hypersomnia, combined to suck me down into classroom naps. Willpower fought against brain cells that kept saying, “You’re getting sle-e-e-py.” The cells kept winning.

After my condition was finally diagnosed, I wrote this song, sung to the tune of My Fair Lady’s “I Could Have Danced All Night”:

I want to sleep all night, I want to sleep all day, and still I’ll beg for more.

I want to go to bed, and rest my sleepy head; please tell me if I snore.

I need to know why I am so exhausted, why all at once I can’t stay awake.

Is there a pill or three, that you can give to me

So I won’t sleep, sleep, sleep all day?

Jan Millar Alkire ’63
Seattle, Washington

Published in the Summer 2009 issue

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