A Vanderbilt University conference will make a field trip to Mammoth Cave NP on Wednesday afternoon. The conference topic is the science of sleep and the field trip will recognize the 75th anniversary of a very early experiment that was conducted inside Mammoth Cave.

The conference. Dr. William Schwartz will present a lecture on chronobiology, open to the public, and then the conference participants will go on a tour of Mammoth Cave to the underground site of the 1938 sleep experiment. https://my.vanderbilt.edu/chronobiologysummerschool/

If you would like to contact Vanderbilt University about the conference, you may call or email Beth Sims at 615-936-3705, or beth.sims@vanderbilt.edu.

About the 1938 experiment (from http://www.weirdexperiments.com/19201939.htm):

Sleep Experiment in Mammoth Cave

One of the great unsolved mysteries of sleep research at that period was whether the human sleep–wake rhythm of 24 hours was merely a habit changeable at any time or whether people had an internal, hard-wired body clock.

So sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman set out to search a location where there was no difference between day and night. He found it in a 20-metre wide and 8-metre high rock chamber in the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, where he and his student Bruce Richardson wanted to try out the 28 hours day: sleeping for 9 hours, working for 10 and having 9 hours’ worth of leisure.

They spent 32 days in the cave. Richardson adapted to the new cycle after just a week. Kleitman, who was 20 years older, failed to adapt. Below some old news footage from the experiment.


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