What’s the minimum number of hours of sleep you need in order to function the next day fully? Eight? Maybe six? If you’re on the bit extreme side, you’d probably say four? It’s not true that sleep is for the weak, regardless of what others say. It is an essential part of our daily activities to keep a healthy mind and body. There was this one baffling case, however, during World War I. A soldier named Paul Kern was shot by an enemy bullet in the head that cost him not his mobility or eyesight but his ability to sleep, and that’s how he ended up staying awake for the next forty years of his life—feeling sleepy yet?

Paul Kern’s Last Sleep

Paul Kern was one of those soldiers who immediately joined up at the outbreak of World War I after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and his wife were assassinated. He was a member of Hungary’s elite shock troop, the group that would lead the charge into the enemy positions and fights on the frontlines of World War I.

Austro-Hungarian Troops at War, 1916. (National Museum of the U.S. Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1915, Kern and his troops were battling the Russian when one of the enemy bullets made its way into his head. It entered through his right temple and instantly knocked him unconscious. The wound was no doubt fatal if left untrearted, so he was immediately brought to Lemberg hospital to have it removed.

Upon doctors’ inspection, they found out that the bullet damaged part of his frontal lobe, a part of the brain considered to be the behavior and emotional control center that’s responsible for a wide range of brain activities like movement, emotions, planning, and problem-solving, to name a few.