Let me be clear: Isleep. I hate the yawns that force their way from my mouth as sleep seeps into my brain. I hate the aches that set into my limbs as the need to render myself unconscious grows. But most of all, I hate the dreadful inevitability of sleep. No matter what, sleep will eventually come, like a preternaturally persistent thief, to rob me of my higher faculties.
What makes this situation even more intolerable is that I hatetoo. For me, waking up involves roughly the same amount of willpower as it does to climb . A slow, sluggish journey through the hellish terrain of semi-conciousness, occasionally accompanied by a sharp, short headache and blurred vision.
Another aspect of sleep that gets on my nerves is the sheer waste of time involved. Those 6-9 hours? I could be doing something with them! Something important, something fun, something interesting. Well, as a serial procrastinator, perhaps not. I’d probably end up bouncing from website to website, cursing my luck for having nothing to do. So, it’d be more accurate to say that I hate that sleep gets in the way of me possibly doing something worthwhile, rather than it actually getting in the way of me doing something worthwhile. Despite this, it still gets on my nerves.
Well, what if we could reduce our need for sleep or even eliminate it completely? The idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Thai Ngoc, a 68 year old farmer, has gone without sleep for nearly 40 years. He gained this strange ability in 1973, following a bout of fever. Even more remarkable is that he has apparently suffered no detrimental mental or physical effects from his sleepless hours. What if we could replicate these conditions in others? What if we could create people that need no sleep? What of we could create a society that needs no sleep?
As in turns out, we can… To an extent. Recently, there has been a lot of time and effort put into researching a class of eugeroics. These nifty chemicals have become known as wakefullness-promoting agents due to their ability to stave off sleep in those that use them. More importantly, these drugs, unlike other stimulants such as caffeine, are virtually non-addicting and do not result in the formation of a sleep debt. This means that with eugeroics you can go without sleep for two days and then sleep for your normal 6-9 hours and feel fine, whereas with caffeine you may spend 16 hours slumped over the side of a couch and feel terrible after it too. Of course, these drugs are mostly used to treat disorders such as narcolepsy. However, as I’m sure you can see, they have other applications as well.known as
Military usage is one of the more obvious applications. A soldier that never sleeps? I think that was the basis of an episode. Another application is for work. I mean, who wouldn’t want to reduce the hours that they sleep to put in a few extra hours to impress the boss? Who wouldn’t want to earn more commission? The problem is that once this starts there’s no going back. Pretty soon you could be frowned at for only working 20 hours a day. What are you? Lazy? Don’t tell me that you need to sleep. The potential abuses of these drugs, especially in a corporate centred culture, are immense.
Another problem with these drugs is that they don’t replace sleep. They trick your brain into thinking it has slept. The subtle effects of sleep deprivation, such as immune dysfunction, metabolism issues and potentially depression, will still be present. To be precise, eugeroics have allowed for the future possibility of a world populated by sickly, fat, depressive workaholics. Great job, science!
The truth, as much as I hate to admit it, is that sleep is important. As long as we do not fully understand the human brain and body, then we are stuck with sleep. So when the logo-emblazoned mountebank on the street corner tries to sell me their miracle cure, I’ll declare my opposition, pull out a pillow and try to will myself to sleep.