An 81-year-old farmer from Vietnam who claims to have not slept since 1973 has gone viral online.
Decades-long insomnia: Thai Ngoc, who hails from Quang Nam province, spends his days tending to crops and ponds, as well as raising fish on his farm in the Na Trang valley.
Unlike others who rest when the sun sets, he purportedly works tirelessly day and night.
“I can still carry 50 kilograms of fertilizer over a 4-kilometer distance from my house to the field without feeling tired,” he was quoted by Vietnamnet as saying.
How it started: According to Ngoc, he began to lose his ability to sleep after contracting a fever in 1973. Since then, his condition persisted despite seeking medical advice and prescriptions from doctors at the Da Nang Hospital.
Sleep deprivation typically leads to various symptoms, including irritability, impaired cognitive function, reduced concentration and extreme fatigue. These symptoms worsen in cases where individuals go without sleep for multiple days.
Ngoc’s case appears to be an anomaly as he has shown to have adapted to life without sleep remarkably well.
“Peculiar ailment”: While there is no apparent significant impact on his overall health, Ngoc finds his condition frustrating.
“It’s frustrating and exasperating,” he said. “What a peculiar ailment. Seeing others sleep, I envy them. On moonlit nights, I usually go out to weed and till the soil because sitting still is unbearable. It’s strange that I work twice as much as others, yet my life is still not that prosperous.”
Ngoc said he would occasionally turn to alcoholic beverages, but they only leave him in a drowsy haze without causing him to fall asleep.
Global fame: While he has lived a quiet life, Ngoc gained international attention after local news outlets covered his extreme case of insomnia in 2007. Several foreign television networks have offered him substantial sums to document his daily life, but he has refused the invitations.
In February, YouTuber Drew Binsky spent a night with Ngoc and observed that he attempted to sleep around 4 a.m. but ultimately failed. One theory surrounding Ngoc’s insomnia is the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the Vietnam War, during which Ngoc reportedly injured his hand.