This article isn't just about sleep. It's about a runner who does ultra-marathons - typically 50k or 100k races. This runner broke the unofficial record for completing the Appalachian Trail. He finished the 2189 mile journey in only 46 days - this comes out to be 47.5 miles per day! I've ran a marathon and have done many 3-5 night backpacking trips in the Smoky Mountains, but I can't imagine walking or running 47.5 miles per day. What an amazing feat.
The reason I am blogging about this, though, is because the article mentions how the runner only got 4-5 hours of sleep per night. On the last few days, he only got 1-2 hours per night! So this elite athlete could continue to function at his high level even with very little sleep. This fact is interesting because some studies show that athletes perform better when they get plenty of rest. The article doesn't say how much sleep the runner typically gets when not racing. It may be that he only sleeps 5-6 hours on a regular night - so 4-5 hours of sleep would not be that much deprivation.