In December 2013, Kim Allan, a 47 year-old mother of four, set a new world record by running non-stop for more than 86 hours to cover a distance of 310 miles.
The concept of ultra-running, (walking or running a distance longer than the traditional marathon of 26.2 miles) is nothing new. Thousands of years ago, the only way to communicate over long distances was on foot. The first recorded ultra-distance run in North America took place around 1009 AD, when Norwegian explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni despatched a fleet-footed Scottish couple to seek promising lands south of Newfoundland. Three days later, the ultra-runners returned with a bunch of grapes and a handful of wild wheat1.
Sadly, their epic run was not documented by independent observers, so they did not receive credit for their time and distance. Kim’s record is safe, at least until another freakishly fit contender snatches it from her grasp.
While covering a distance of 310 miles is amazing enough, what is really remarkable about athletes like Kim Allan and Pam Reed, the previous record-holder, is the extreme sleep debt accumulated over 80-odd hours of wakefulness. Other individuals who have gone for days without sleep have reported experiencing severe psychological effects, including hallucinations, psychosis and long-term memory impairment. News stories that cover these remarkable athletes do not seem to report adverse psychological effects.
There are two big differences between ultra-marathon runners and adventurous teenagers. One, athletes go through an intense training process that simulates the conditions of running for days at a time. Marathon-length training races are conducted back to back. Additionally, a lot more thought goes into timing, pacing and diet.
The second big difference between trained athletes and lay people is the fact that the athletes are in constant, carefully programmed motion while they are dealing with no sleep. Their neurochemical environment is completely different and this may offer protection against psychosis and hallucinations.
Sooner or later, all ultra-marathon runners have to cave in to normal circadian rhythms and hit the mattress. Whether you are planning on joining their ranks or just a quick jog around the block, Sit ‘n’ Sleep has everything you need for a comfortable, peaceful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.