Another extreme case of insomnia has come to light in Vietnam. This time it is a 49-year-old man who has not slept in 27 years but remains healthy.

Nguyen Van Kha, a tiller, chicken farmer, and carpenter, tells Thanh Nien he has never slept since 1979 when he was a soldier in an artillery division.

One day, closing his eyes had begun to cause a burning sensation. But he did not dare report to his seniors fearing discharge

"But for my sunken eyes and black circles, nobody could guess I could not sleep. The black circles appeared 10 years ago."

While speaking with Thanh Nien, he regularly scrubs his eyes saying it eases a burning sensation.

At night, he watches TV until 9 pm before lying down to "rest".

"Even if I close my eyes for a short while, I feel a pricking sensation and must open them."

He has tried western and herbal remedies but all in vain. Strangely, he rarely falls sick.

Last year Thanh Nien reported the case of the now 65-year-old Thai Ngoc, a farmer in Quang Nam province who suffers the same condition since catching a fever in 1973.

Considerate, helpful man

Kha, who has a high forehead and long hair, recalls he was involved with at least five girls in his life. L. was special and he had been "head over heels" in love.

He was posted in the former Ha Bac province in the north and it was here that he had met L. who always made excuses to stay beside him.

At some point her mother had given him permission to marry her but he had wanted to first fulfill his duties as a soldier.

Asked why he did not get married after leaving the army, he says by then he had the insomnia and did not want to "burden" anyone.

Nghia, his neighbor, tells Thanh Nien that Kha is a good man who volunteers to help others without asking for money and he hopes Kha always remains healthy.

The other insomniac

Thai Ngoc told Thanh Nien last year: "I don't know if the insomnia has affected my health - I'm still healthy and can farm like any other." He said he carried two 50kg bags of fertilizer for 4km everyday.

Ngoc is married and his wife said doctors in Da Nang city had given him a clean bill of health, except for a minor decline in liver function.

"I have tried sleeping pills and Vietnamese traditional medicine but nothing helps, even to sleep for a few minutes".

Phan Ngoc Ha, director of the Hoa Khanh Mental Hospital in Danang said sleep disorders often cause anorexia, lethargy, and irritability. But in a small number of cases, people could handle it and live and work normally.