The Man Who Never Sleeps

Thai Ngoc is a man that medical modern science says should have died in 1976 when he was robbed of the ability to sleep.  The Vietnamese man, born in 1942 in a small village called Trung Ha in the Quang Nam Province said one of his greatest aspirations in life was to one day have a dream.  And yet dreams have never come.

The man was the subject of two separate investigations looking into his strange condition.  Some would say the potential for productivity one man can have utilizing all 24 hours in the day without sleep would be an immense boon while others say it is a cruel curse placed on him by nature.  The investigations operating out of the United Kingdom and Thailand both independently concluded that Thai Ngoc was the genuine article as they followed him for several days independently with cameras around the clock.  As the sun set, Ngoc continued to work tirelessly, tending to the small farm he lived on.  Investigators even took the study a step further, hiding nine objects of Ngoc’s around the house and asking the elderly man to describe them and indicate which objects were missing.  He did so without missing a beat, demonstrating an incredible amount of alertness.

The brain needs what is known as “REM sleep” also known as “dream sleep.”  REM sleep is said to be one of the most powerful changes the human mind will undertake throughout a natural lifetime.  And it is supposed to happen once every REM cycle in a 24 hour day.  Without REM sleep subjects in sleep studies show a decreased level of performance in both cognitive functioning and verbal aptitude.  And with time, a lack of REM sleep is often forcibly fought by the body with increased lethargy ultimately leading to a deep sleep lasting several hours.  Studies where REM sleep was prevented often resulted in symptoms reminiscent of sufferers of schizophrenia.

And yet Ngoc, while observed, seemed perfectly reasonable and lucid.  He would work around the clock with no ill effects.  Since he never slept, he had no bed in his house.  Visitors had to sleep on mats which Ngoc poured boiling water around in order to fight off the constant tide of ants in the area.

Though his lack of sleep was widely documented by news crews, he declined an invitation to travel abroad for 18 months in order to be studied, saying he was afraid of tests and had not left his home town for over 60 years.  In addition, he says that no doctor has been able to help him thus far.  Medicines intended to allow him to sleep have no effect on him.  He has had several jobs playing drums at night in order to remind the other villagers that someone is still out there watching over the village in the dead of night.  And yet no one is able to explain how Ngoc is alive or how he can sustain such long hours without sleep.  He has been keeping his pace for a long time and wishes for nothing more than a half hour nap.