Anybody still catching up on sleep from New Years? Other than me, I mean?

Twenty years ago today, Channel Four in the UK first aired a show where contestants didn’t start their day – because they hadn’t gone to sleep the night before!

The show was called Shattered, and the idea was to have 10 people compete to see who could stay awake the longest.

One of the producers said that the show was supposed to be kind of a social experiment.

Modern life was speeding up and figuratively required people to be “on” all the time, so why not have them try to literally be “on” 24/7?

But instead of just having contestants sit around in a room and eventually nod off until one of them won the grand prize, the show presented them with temptations.

From 2 to 4 am each night, there was what they called a “you snooze, you lose” challenge.

One night the participants had to snuggle with teddy bears.

Another night they had to listen to bedtime stories from old grandmas.

And once they had to sit there and watch paint dry.

It turns out not everyone wants to watch tired people watch paint dry, but the first few episodes got their fair share of viewers, plus a fair share of backlash.

Critics asked in what universe was it a good idea to have people deprive themselves of sleep for days on end just so they might win a reality TV competition?

The producers said they did allow contestants to take occasional 45 minute naps, and they had doctors and psychologists check the contestants out every day to head off any potential health complications.

Though even if you avoid any serious problems, going without sleep for days can definitely bring out the weirdness in people.

One contestant said he hallucinated that he was the Prime Minister of Australia!

The final challenge for the last three contestants was what you’d expect: they were sent to bed, to see who would finally nod off last.

After 178 hours, police cadet Clare Southern outlasted the others.

Even when there wasn’t anyone left but her, she still didn’t sink into sleep right away!

She says that only really happened when she got home, where she fell asleep mid-meal and her very tired head dropped into a bowl of soup.

This month in 1970, a big moment in the art world.

Working with the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, German artist Wolf Vostell unveiled a work called Concrete Traffic.

He’d taken a 1957 Cadillac and encased it in concrete.

You can find it today in – where else – a parking garage.

Shattered: legacy of a reality TV experiment in extreme sleep deprivation (The Guardian) 

VOSTELL CONCRETE 1969–1973 JANUARY 1 (Smart Museum of Art)

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