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Provigil Extends Your Day?

CmdrTaco posted about 12 years ago | from the but-I-like-my-warm-cozy-bed dept.

Science 660

John Mearns writes "It looks like before long all caffeine junkies will be able to ditch the bottle of Mountain Dew or cup of coffee in favor of pill. Its not a true stimulant so you don't get the "caffeine crash," just countless hours of alert attentiveness. " It's also still in testing so it'll probably make you grow horns or something, and is supposed to only be used for people who are sleepy during the day, but it raises several interesting ethical questions.

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660 comments

i'm beatin my meat (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | about 12 years ago | (#3361340)

on a toilet seat, do da.

when my hands get tired (-1)

trollercoaster (250101) | about 12 years ago | (#3361358)

I'll use my feet, all the do da day.

Re:when my hands get tired (-1)

Rock 'N' Troll (566273) | about 12 years ago | (#3361373)

How many times u had FP?

6 Victories for the CLIT (-1)

TrollBridge (550878) | about 12 years ago | (#3361389)

That's 6 FP's for trollercoaster, baby! No AC's gonna get it today, I personally guarantee!

Re:6 Victories for the CLIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361399)

No AC's gonna get it today

Or tonight either if you take a pill.

Re:when my hands get tired (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361542)

mmmmmmm, feet. not male feet though. i love feet. they are sexy. i want to cum on a nice pair of feet. i want to be footfucked. i want your sister to shove her feet in my mouth.

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361342)

Now I don't have any excuse to drink caffeine!

FORK PIST! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361350)

Eat Shit, 'Trolls'

Re:FORK PIST! (-1)

TrollBridge (550878) | about 12 years ago | (#3361419)

Eat shit, fuckwit! Trollercoaster 0wns you punk-bitchez. Bow down to the CLIT (Community of Logged-In Trolls)!!

First Post. (5, Funny)

QuodEratDemonstratum (569501) | about 12 years ago | (#3361352)


Cool, if I take these it will increase my chances of getting a first post.

Pop pill.
Reload /.
Pop pill.
Reload /.
Pop pill.
Reload /.
Rinse,
Repeat.

caffene crash is great (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about 12 years ago | (#3361356)

How else do i know it's time to give up and go to bed? when you finally come crashing down in the bathroom as your body is expelling all that water...

Boom.... now sleep for 12 hours.

I want something that will reduce my bodies need for sleep... make me feel good and refreshed on 3 or 4 hours of sleep.

Re:caffene crash is great (1)

jack deadmeat (515264) | about 12 years ago | (#3361409)

Sign up for the Green Berets. I don't know about nowadays, but in the halycon days of yore, they supposedly handed out some great stimulants.

Re:caffene crash is great (5, Interesting)

Wonko42 (29194) | about 12 years ago | (#3361415)

Try Uberman's Sleep Cycle [kuro5hin.org]. If your schedule allows it, and you're able to adjust to the cycle, you'll end up getting around two to three hours of sleep per day (just not consecutively) and you'll feel better than after a normal eight hours of sleep. Or so people say.

Seriously (4, Funny)

crumbz (41803) | about 12 years ago | (#3361360)

What would happen if you took this with an Ambien, a couple of beers, a Tylenol-3 and a grande mocha? I think you would time travel...

Re:Seriously (-1)

TrollBridge (550878) | about 12 years ago | (#3361442)

At the very least it would make you vomit yourself inside out, expel blood from every orifice, and after all that, your head would liekly explode...

After that point, I don't think it would matter where or when you went.

Re:Seriously (3, Funny)

Indras (515472) | about 12 years ago | (#3361466)

I think you would time travel...

Yeah, in a "whoa, is it really August already?" kind of way.

Re:Seriously (2)

56ker (566853) | about 12 years ago | (#3361518)

And there was me taking you seriously for a while! Really I must cut back on the caffeine!

Popups (0, Offtopic)

LordKariya (195696) | about 12 years ago | (#3361363)

I would have read the whole article, but the two popups and the page-covering javascript ad prevented me from doing so. Fuck !

Re:Popups (0, Offtopic)

Darkstar9969 (516815) | about 12 years ago | (#3361393)

Great trick, use the Print or Print Preview links found in most newspaper's sites.

This will get you a nice, clean, properly layed out page of text with adverts in banners or on the side.

No Java Required....

Cheers

Wow... (4, Funny)

MonkeyBot (545313) | about 12 years ago | (#3361368)

If I would have had this during my undergrad career as an engineer, maybe I could have gotten a degree AND had a social life!

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361447)

Maybe I would have gotten my degree... *goes out to party*

Re:Wow... (2)

Indras (515472) | about 12 years ago | (#3361491)

Get a degree AND have a social life? I would think that would cause a black hole or tear the fabric of space-time or something. That's probably why it's never happened before.

It won't replace coffee. (4, Insightful)

Hiro Antagonist (310179) | about 12 years ago | (#3361369)

There's something incredibly cozy about having a cup of hot coffee or tea to sip on throughout the day, a sort of tangibility that you won't get from popping a pill. It's kind of like the difference between muzak(tm) and Pink Floyd...sure, both are music, but only one is music.

Re:It won't replace coffee. (1)

excesspwr (218183) | about 12 years ago | (#3361431)

It's kind of like the difference between muzak(tm) and Pink Floyd...sure, both are music, but only one is music.

I've always enjoyed the muzak(tm) version of The Wall myself.

Re:It won't replace coffee. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361480)

muzak(tm) and Pink Floyd...sure, both are music, but only one is music.

Coincidentally, they both put me to sleep.

So have some decaf with that :-) (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 12 years ago | (#3361541)

Back when I was a college student, I started drinking herbal teas, because when you're up late studying it's nice to have something hot and tasty to drink, but you can't keep guzzling the real stuff by the liter and expect to ever get to sleep again. These days, you can have your decaf triple latte (aka nice warm milk to help you sleep) along with that ProVigil pill.

Pop up adds Suck (-1, Redundant)

luccid (452367) | about 12 years ago | (#3361378)

A Pill to Stretch Your Day A new drug keeps people awake with no apparent ill effects. But is prescribing it the right thing to do? Photos A Pill to Stretch Your Day (STEPHEN SEDAM / LAT) Quote Prescribing the drug to workers who work long hours "becomes irresponsible. There might be fewer accidents on our highways, but there might also be long-term health consequences" associated with using Provigil "that we aren't anticipating." -- JED BLACK Director of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic Times Headlines A Pill to Stretch Your Day A Post-Work Hike--and Back Before Sundown Vitamin Packets: Take With Caution Insurance Limbo for the 'Near Elderly' Tongue Piercing's Effect on Teeth Isn't So Cool more > By TIMOTHY GOWER, Special to The Times It has become a modern cliché: There aren't enough hours in the day. Americans are struggling to balance work and family commitments while trying to find time for a social life and recreation. A growing number of supermarkets, restaurants, gyms and other businesses are accommodating today's 24/7 culture by staying open all night. Not to mention, of course, that the Internet never shuts down. But what if you could do the same? What if you could take a pill and stretch your day--by skipping sleep? That sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but a drug called Provigil could make it possible. Studies have shown that this new medication allows people to remain awake and attentive when their bodies normally crave shut-eye, without suffering the unpleasant side effects and risk of addiction associated with caffeine, amphetamines and other stimulants. Researchers caution that the long-term health consequences of avoiding slumber by taking Provigil, or any drug, aren't well understood. And the makers of Provigil go out of their way to state that the drug is strictly for patients who feel sleepy during the day due to diagnosed medical disorders. Yet as its reputation grows, doctors may soon find themselves faced with a difficult question: When is sleepiness a sickness? "This drug is going to bring up some very interesting ethical dilemmas," says Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and an expert on the causes of daytime sleepiness. "Do you prescribe a stimulant medication for someone who is intentionally sleep deprived?" Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Provigil only for the treatment of one condition, narcolepsy, which causes a sudden and uncontrollable urge to sleep. But Cephalon, the West Chester, Pa.-based company that sells Provigil, hopes to win FDA approval within a few years to market the drug as a pick-me-up for people plagued by sleepiness associated with any medical condition. Many doctors in this country already prescribe Provigil "off-label," that is, for conditions not approved by the FDA (which is a common and perfectly legal practice). Those conditions include depression, sleep apnea, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. What's more, scientists at sleep clinics across the United States are studying whether Provigil can help those working the swing or graveyard shift, who are sometimes diagnosed with a condition known as "shift work disorder." Symptoms can include insomnia, headaches and an all-around blah feeling, in addition to problems staying focused on the job. For 20 years, Jane Jaegers has worked the overnight shift as a 911 dispatcher for Santa Clara County--four days a week, 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The San Jose resident loves the job, but her body has never adjusted to the odd schedule. In the wee hours of the morning, Jaegers says, her attention occasionally drifts during nonemergency calls. If she takes them in time, caffeine pills such as Vivarin and No-Doz help, but they leave Jaegers staring at the ceiling when she goes home and crawls into bed. Constantly exhausted, she has seen her social life suffer. Go to a movie? "As soon as the theater gets dark, I'm gone," says Jaegers, 55. In December, Jaegers heard that scientists at the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Stanford University were studying Provigil, whose name is shorthand for "promotes vigilance." She signed up right away. Every night before leaving for work, Jaegers takes two small tablets--she calls them "magic pills." Because half the people participating in the study are receiving placebo tablets, Jaegers can't be sure she's popping Provigil. But she thinks her pills are the real deal. "I just feel more alert," says Jaegers, who adds that she sleeps soundly these days too. "I'm tickled with the stuff." Drug Is Not Classified as a Stimulant Provigil was developed in France in the 1970s. Although no one is sure how it works, animal studies show that the medication--unlike other drugs that induce wakefulness--doesn't seem to dramatically increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with arousal and alertness. Caffeine and older prescription stimulants buzz the entire central nervous system, causing jitteriness, insomnia and other unwanted effects. When people who use coffee or amphetamines to stay awake finally doze off, they often remain in bed for much longer than usual, their bodies paralyzed by the need for "rebound sleep." Provigil, meanwhile, seems to target only the part of the brain that keeps us awake. When its effects wear off, the user resumes a normal sleep pattern. "Provigil isn't considered a stimulant per se, though it has a wakefulness effect," says Dr. Jed Black, director of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, who is involved in the shift-work study. Although Black says Provigil isn't effective for all patients, it helps many people haunted by daytime sleepiness keep on their toes. While a few users report mild nausea, most don't feel a thing other than awake and alert. When patients switch from older stimulants to Provigil, says Black, they often return to his office and say, "It's not working. I don't feel revved up." Yet tests usually show that their ability to stay awake is much improved. Earlier research found that when healthy people take Provigil they are able to stay awake and on the ball for a long, long time. For example, a 1995 Canadian study showed that subjects taking the drug were able to perform well on cognitive tests while remaining awake and in good spirits for two and a half days. In another study, published in 2000, U.S. Army helicopter pilots stayed awake for 40 hours while being called upon periodically to perform maneuvers on a flight simulator. Unmedicated, the aviators became sloppy and made errors in the early morning hours. But while taking Provigil during a second 40-hour marathon, their skills and focus never wavered. Army psychologist John Caldwell, who conducted the latter study, says more research is needed to determine whether dosing soldiers with Provigil is a safe and effective way to promote alertness. However, he says, it's possible that one day the drug could be used "as an emergency measure to briefly overcome fatigue in 'must-do' missions where total sleep deprivation is unavoidable." What About Students and Working Parents? But aren't many of us faced with our own "must-do missions" from time to time? If Provigil works for soldiers and pilots, won't it do the same for college students cramming for exams? Medical students on 36-hour rotations? Or a working parent with a sick child and a presentation to finish for tomorrow's big meeting with potential investors? Cephalon spokesman Robert Grupp emphasizes that Cephalon has no plans to market Provigil to the all-nighter crowd. "It's not for people who work too long," he says. "It's for people with clinical illness." But as word spreads of Provigil's powers, it seems inevitable that the healthy-but-harried will be intrigued. "Silicon Valley will go wild over this thing," says Andy Serwer, a columnist for Fortune magazine who admits to burning a fair amount of midnight oil when he's on deadline. Instead of swigging Jolt cola and espresso, software designers under the gun could simply take Provigil, which costs about $4 per pill--not much more than the price of a double latte. But would executives pressure their employees to take a pill for the team? Possibly, says Serwer, if they heard that workers at other firms were pulling Provigil-fueled all-nighters. "You would be at a competitive disadvantage if you didn't," he says. If any doctors have begun prescribing Provigil to college students and corporate workers under the gun, they're keeping the practice quiet. But Provigil does raise a difficult question for the medical community. What if people who work in positions where sleepiness can endanger themselves and others start asking their doctors for the drug? Shift Workers Pose Dilemma for Doctors Take long-haul truckers, for instance. According to federal regulations, they're supposed to take breaks every 10 hours. But many drivers ignore the law, even if it means navigating an 18-wheeler while bleary-eyed. A recent exposé by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an interview with one driver who admitted to being behind the wheel of his big rig for 36 straight hours. "Do you give that person the medication to keep him awake and not kill himself and a car full of people?" asks Mahowald, of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center. "Or do you as a matter of principle say, 'No, you cannot have this medication because you don't have the proper sleep disorder'? ... Quite frankly, in the interest of public safety, I would be tempted to give the individual stimulant medication." Not all sleep experts feel that's the right choice. "I think that becomes irresponsible," says Black. "There might be fewer accidents on our highways, but there might also be long-term health consequences" associated with using Provigil "that we aren't anticipating." Black says he will only prescribe the drug to people whose sleepiness and fatigue are caused by a medical condition or occur as a side effect from another medication. However, Black, Mahowald and other sleep researchers agree that it's unwise to think Provigil or any pill will make shut-eye optional. "We don't understand the role sleep plays," says the Army's Caldwell. "It's a bad idea for anyone to rely on a drug of any description to maintain alertness." And yet for Jane Jaegers and other shift workers, Provigil may mean the difference between a zombie-like existence and a normal life. And they represent a huge potential market for Cephalon. The number of shift workers in the United States increases 2% to 3% each year, says David Mitchell, a spokesman for Circadian Technologies, a Lexington, Mass., company that advises firms that want to convert to 24/7 operation. The nationwide shift-work study should be completed by the end of this year. If the results are promising, perhaps Provigil will one day be found in the medicine cabinets of police officers, firefighters, nurses and other people who work nights. And if that happens, what's to stop the son of a shift worker from asking, "Hey, Dad, I've got a history final on Tuesday--can I bum a Provigil?" Then again, maybe Junior won't bother asking--the medication is on sale through Internet-based pharmacies based overseas, often marketed as a "smart drug." In "Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything" (Vintage, 2000), author James Gleick writes about our changing notion of time. Reached by e-mail, he was dubious about using a drug to lengthen our days. "In a time-obsessed age, this is the Holy Grail," said Gleick. "Cheating sleep is the closest thing we have to cheating death." However, until scientists better understand the phenomenon known as sleep, he was quick to add, "Beware of miracles."

Re:Pop up adds Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361481)

If you're going to karma whore... at least hit 'preview' first!

Good luck on the long road to the karma cap....

hmm... (1)

seann (307009) | about 12 years ago | (#3361380)

"For 20 years, Jane Jaegers has worked the overnight shift as a 911 dispatcher for Santa Clara County--four days a week, 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The San Jose resident loves the job, but her body has never adjusted to the odd schedule"
sucks to be her. I'm not even 20 years old and It takes me little under a day to adjust to night shifts. Is this what I have to look forward to when I'm 55? Will this pill save me?

Re:hmm... (0)

NorthDude (560769) | about 12 years ago | (#3361460)

I remember something I saw on TV. They were doing research on "time acclimatation" of people who must travel. They discovered that the biological clock in the body ajust itself almost within hours depending on LIGHT!

There: http://www.forum.umontreal.ca/numeros/1999-2000/Fo rum99-11-29/article04.html [umontreal.ca]

It's in french, but worth reading. Basically, the effect of light is a lot more then just Psychologic on the body. It directly influence hormonal production during the day. I can't find any link to the tv show I saw, but this same doctor gave tricks as to how to adapt to time decay when you travel using only sun gogle! Cool stuff...

Make with the slangie-slang (1)

Digitalia (127982) | about 12 years ago | (#3361385)

So, given the inevitable abuse of this drug, I'd say it's not too early to begin brainstorming some potential street names for it. I'll open with my mediocre contribution: Noxecutor

Sleep and dreams... (5, Interesting)

Steveftoth (78419) | about 12 years ago | (#3361395)

Since this deprives you of sleep, but somehow keeps you from falling asleep, the long-term side effects of this are compeletly unknown. All the studies show that not sleeping is extreamly bad for you in the long run. Lowers immune systems, increases stress, reduces hapiness, etc.
One thing they don't mention is if you have to sleep for a 'normal' amount after the drug wares off. So if you are awake for like 36 hours, then how long do you sleep? 8 hours? or 16 hours?

Even if this has bad long term effects, this will be very popular, everyone has those nights that they 'have' to stay up and work. Could be the procrationators drug of choice.

Re:Sleep and dreams... (1)

Matthaeus (156071) | about 12 years ago | (#3361471)

Sleep isn't banked, so even if you've been up for 36 hours, a full (and uninterrupted) 8 hours should get you back on your feet. Of course, if you normally need 16 hours of sleep, that's how long it'll take you to recover.

#include

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361397)

Yes! Let's give up natural products like "tea" and "coffee" and give all our money to a drug company! WOOHOO! CAPITALISM! CAPITALISM! CAPITALISM!

Exercise works better (1)

g_bit (253703) | about 12 years ago | (#3361404)

I rode my bike about 15 miles yesterday and I didn't start getting tired until about 4 AM (I got up at 10 AM that day)

Usually, I start feeling drowsy around 2 AM without any exercise.

I don't need no steenkin' pills man!

Re:Exercise works better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361445)

Do you lick tree frogs? I do, and it has the same effect on me.

Re:Exercise works better (3, Funny)

GTRacer (234395) | about 12 years ago | (#3361482)

Yes, but if you're out exercising, you're not WORKING, slacker! Get back to work!

Signed,

Your Boss

GTRacer
- There's a Dilbert in this somewhere...

Bandwidth (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | about 12 years ago | (#3361407)

Just great! You finally tailor your sleep habits to be awake at 3am when the bandwidth is better and someone comes out with a pill that lets you stay online around the clock. Doh!

WARNING! No one knows how it works!!! (4, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | about 12 years ago | (#3361410)

From the article:
Provigil was developed in France in the 1970s. Although no one is sure how it works, animal studies show that the medication--unlike other drugs that induce wakefulness--doesn't seem to dramatically increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with arousal and alertness.

If you want to take a drug that no one knows how it works, go for it. However, I will not be taking a drug that scientists are clueless about.

The best treatment for sleepiness is SLEEPING!!! If you are engaging in an activity that is depriving you of sleep, STOP!!! There is a reason you get sleepy. Your body and mind needs to rest and recharge and sleepiness is the signal to do so. Medical test after medical test has shown that people that deprive themselves of sleep go insane and lose their ability to perform even the easiest of tasks. That is why sleep deprivation is used so often as a torture device to break down subjects, so they will spill the proverbial beans.

Re:WARNING! No one knows how it works!!! (1)

CaptainStormfield (444795) | about 12 years ago | (#3361522)

If you want to take a drug that no one knows how it works, go for it. However, I will not be taking a drug that scientists are clueless about

It is not unusual for a drug to be approved by the FDA, even when scientists (read: the drug company) does not know its mechanism of action. I am not a drug expert, but IIRC drugs are approved as safe and effective only after empirical trials, and not on the basis of a theoretical understanding of how the drug works. One of the reasons for this is that knowing how a drug works does not always allow scientists to predict whether it will have any side effects.

Re:WARNING! No one knows how it works!!! (2)

startled (144833) | about 12 years ago | (#3361524)

If you want to take a drug that no one knows how it works, go for it. However, I will not be taking a drug that scientists are clueless about.

Exactly. Now's your chance to get ahead of the curve, while normal people (see above) are worried about "long term effects" and other such nonsense. Once it's certified healthy, we're back to square one with heightened expectations, when everyone's using it. So don't delay-- start using it now, and get 10 years up on everyone else!

Re:Aspirin.... (2)

evilpaul13 (181626) | about 12 years ago | (#3361528)

I seem to recall that scientists aren't exactly sure how aspirin works either. I have no problem using it, and I also don't see a reason people can't just go the hell to bed when they are tired.

Big deal. (1, Interesting)

Jonathan Hamilton (221) | about 12 years ago | (#3361534)

People seem to realize that we don't know how alot of drugs work. Prozac, and most other depression drugs aren't know how they work. Scientist don't know what chemical receptors they bond to, it's sort of a trial and error deal.

We as a human race think we are so smart and have figured everything out. Did you know that scientist don't even know completly how eggs scramble because of all the complex protien reactions?

So stop eating scrambled eggs.
(I'm kidding of course it's all risk vs. benefits, and in this case your right.)

My point is, just because we don't know how somthing works dosen't mean that you aren't using it already.

Re:WARNING! No one knows how it works!!! (2, Informative)

Nilatir (179045) | about 12 years ago | (#3361537)

Hate to break it to you but if you check out www.rxlist.com [rxlist.com] you'll find that doctors and scientists don't really know how a lot of drugs work.

Re:WARNING! No one knows how it works!!! (5, Funny)

t0qer (230538) | about 12 years ago | (#3361538)

Medical test after medical test has shown that people that deprive themselves of sleep go insane and lose their ability to perform even the easiest of tasks.

Lol, I got an insanity story to tell...

When I was 18, I worked construction down in bakersfield. Everyday my boss would give me a little bit of krank to stick in my gums. I honestly didn't know what I was getting into as I had never done it before.

After a week of no sleep, drinking pint's of whiskey like they were soda pops, and various hallucinations. I decided it would be a *Good Thing* to take on my friends 350lb father with my 150lb kranked out self.

Lucky for me, all he did was throw me 30 feet to which, I landed on my feet, ran across the street and started yelling, "C'mon you pussy come on this side of the street i'll kick your ass!" After that episode I went home, slept for 28 hours, and vowed never to do that shit again. Haven't touched the stuff since.

It's the same for all revolutions (1)

_bobs.pizza_ (452394) | about 12 years ago | (#3361412)

During any period of fast paced growth, workers stop sleeping as much, due to employer demand.
During the Industrial Revolution, all of those poor workers were working like crazy for 12+ hours a day, in crappy conditions.

How many of us today are actually getting excited about a way that could possibly allow us to work a few more hours a day? (people from management / human resources excepted)

I'll laugh the day we read about the next scandal, where some cutting-edge technology company is caught providing these pills to their workers to increase productivity.

Re:It's the same for all revolutions (1)

Servo (9177) | about 12 years ago | (#3361526)

About 3 years ago, I worked as a programmer/sysadmin at a community college. My boss used to buy cases of those Penguin Mints and gave them to his computer dept for free. This was also right after several people quit, and we were having to do all of their work, several new projects, a datacenter move, and our regular assigned jobs which we were hired for.

I think you know why he gave the mints to us.

Re:It's the same for all revolutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361527)

Wait until they repeal child labor laws so junior can start bringing home the bacon also.

I do cocaine.... (4, Funny)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#3361418)

so I can work more, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke, so I can work more, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke, so I can work more, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke,so I can work more, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke,so I can work more, so I can make more money, so I can do more coke.....

....I'm always chasing rainbows...

If it works, gimme! (1)

Tackhead (54550) | about 12 years ago | (#3361422)

They're right, Silicon Valley will go crazy over this thing. I was reading the article and figured "To hell with work, I could use something like that for all-night Civ3 marathons. I could, like, play for three days straight! That sounds like fun."

Prediction: If it works and the side-effects turn out to be manageable, within a few years, this'll be taken off the prescription schedule and sold over-the-counter just like Vivarin, No-Doz, and sleeping pills.

Skeptic's Take: That said, the article gushes pretty poetic about this. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that this article is part of a PR campaign.

By the time it's available over-the-counter, though, it probably won't matter, as by that time, the risks and side-effects will be pretty well documented. I'm lookin' forward to it.

Test it first! (1)

beej (82035) | about 12 years ago | (#3361424)

Once this is thoroughly tested on Perl programmers, I'll totally go for it. If I never had to sleep again, I might actually be able to finish some of my projects outside of work.

It's sad... (3, Insightful)

Lizard_King (149713) | about 12 years ago | (#3361428)

...to see how people underestimate the value of a good night's sleep to your health. I'd rather get a little less done during the day than deal with the whole laundry list of problems you are opening yourself up to when you are sleep deprived. Ever notice that people who don't get much sleep get sick a lot?

Sleep is fundamental, period. There are no substitutions.

Until Then... (1)

limekiller4 (451497) | about 12 years ago | (#3361434)

For those of you who don't want to wait, or would rather not fry your noodle, I've had a LOT of good experience with Metabolift [metabolift.com] by TwinLab. Doesn't leave your mouth tasting like a urinal (coffee 3 hours after you're done) or make your stomach feel like ....well, like it has NoDoz in it. If I had to describe it, I'd say it just makes you feel like you just woke from a good 6 hours of sound sleep.

No, I don't work for TwinLab, but again, I've been using it for a few years and everyone I introduce it to swears by it. CVS (a local pharmacy chain) carries it in most locations, but I'm sure you can find it elsewhere, including GNC. It's gotten me through more than a few nights of intense coding and NOC shifts.

In case it gets /.'ed (0, Redundant)

Dr. Weird (566938) | about 12 years ago | (#3361439)

It has become a modern cliché: There aren't enough hours in the day. Americans are struggling to balance work and family commitments while trying to find time for a social life and recreation. A growing number of supermarkets, restaurants, gyms and other businesses are accommodating today's 24/7 culture by staying open all night. Not to mention, of course, that the Internet never shuts down. But what if you could do the same?

What if you could take a pill and stretch your day--by skipping sleep?

That sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but a drug called Provigil could make it possible. Studies have shown that this new medication allows people to remain awake and attentive when their bodies normally crave shut-eye, without suffering the unpleasant side effects and risk of addiction associated with caffeine, amphetamines and other stimulants.

Researchers caution that the long-term health consequences of avoiding slumber by taking Provigil, or any drug, aren't well understood.

And the makers of Provigil go out of their way to state that the drug is strictly for patients who feel sleepy during the day due to diagnosed medical disorders. Yet as its reputation grows, doctors may soon find themselves faced with a difficult question: When is sleepiness a sickness?

"This drug is going to bring up some very interesting ethical dilemmas," says Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center in Minneapolis and an expert on the causes of daytime sleepiness. "Do you prescribe a stimulant medication for someone who is intentionally sleep deprived?"

Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Provigil only for the treatment of one condition, narcolepsy, which causes a sudden and uncontrollable urge to sleep. But Cephalon, the West Chester, Pa.-based company that sells Provigil, hopes to win FDA approval within a few years to market the drug as a pick-me-up for people plagued by sleepiness associated with any medical condition. Many doctors in this country already prescribe Provigil "off-label," that is, for conditions not approved by the FDA (which is a common and perfectly legal practice). Those conditions include depression, sleep apnea, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

What's more, scientists at sleep clinics across the United States are studying whether Provigil can help those working the swing or graveyard shift, who are sometimes diagnosed with a condition known as "shift work disorder." Symptoms can include insomnia, headaches and an all-around blah feeling, in addition to problems staying focused on the job.

For 20 years, Jane Jaegers has worked the overnight shift as a 911 dispatcher for Santa Clara County--four days a week, 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The San Jose resident loves the job, but her body has never adjusted to the odd schedule. In the wee hours of the morning, Jaegers says, her attention occasionally drifts during nonemergency calls. If she takes them in time, caffeine pills such as Vivarin and No-Doz help, but they leave Jaegers staring at the ceiling when she goes home and crawls into bed. Constantly exhausted, she has seen her social life suffer. Go to a movie? "As soon as the theater gets dark, I'm gone," says Jaegers, 55.

In December, Jaegers heard that scientists at the Sleep Disorders Clinic at Stanford University were studying Provigil, whose name is shorthand for "promotes vigilance." She signed up right away.

Every night before leaving for work, Jaegers takes two small tablets--she calls them "magic pills." Because half the people participating in the study are receiving placebo tablets, Jaegers can't be sure she's popping Provigil. But she thinks her pills are the real deal. "I just feel more alert," says Jaegers, who adds that she sleeps soundly these days too. "I'm tickled with the stuff."

Drug Is Not Classified as a Stimulant

Provigil was developed in France in the 1970s. Although no one is sure how it works, animal studies show that the medication--unlike other drugs that induce wakefulness--doesn't seem to dramatically increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with arousal and alertness.

Caffeine and older prescription stimulants buzz the entire central nervous system, causing jitteriness, insomnia and other unwanted effects. When people who use coffee or amphetamines to stay awake finally doze off, they often remain in bed for much longer than usual, their bodies paralyzed by the need for "rebound sleep." Provigil, meanwhile, seems to target only the part of the brain that keeps us awake. When its effects wear off, the user resumes a normal sleep pattern.

"Provigil isn't considered a stimulant per se, though it has a wakefulness effect," says Dr. Jed Black, director of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, who is involved in the shift-work study. Although Black says Provigil isn't effective for all patients, it helps many people haunted by daytime sleepiness keep on their toes. While a few users report mild nausea, most don't feel a thing other than awake and alert. When patients switch from older stimulants to Provigil, says Black, they often return to his office and say, "It's not working. I don't feel revved up." Yet tests usually show that their ability to stay awake is much improved.

Earlier research found that when healthy people take Provigil they are able to stay awake and on the ball for a long, long time. For example, a 1995 Canadian study showed that subjects taking the drug were able to perform well on cognitive tests while remaining awake and in good spirits for two and a half days. In another study, published in 2000, U.S. Army helicopter pilots stayed awake for 40 hours while being called upon periodically to perform maneuvers on a flight simulator. Unmedicated, the aviators became sloppy and made errors in the early morning hours. But while taking Provigil during a second 40-hour marathon, their skills and focus never wavered.

Army psychologist John Caldwell, who conducted the latter study, says more research is needed to determine whether dosing soldiers with Provigil is a safe and effective way to promote alertness. However, he says, it's possible that one day the drug could be used "as an emergency measure to briefly overcome fatigue in 'must-do' missions where total sleep deprivation is unavoidable."

What About Students and Working Parents?

But aren't many of us faced with our own "must-do missions" from time to time? If Provigil works for soldiers and pilots, won't it do the same for college students cramming for exams? Medical students on 36-hour rotations? Or a working parent with a sick child and a presentation to finish for tomorrow's big meeting with potential investors?

Cephalon spokesman Robert Grupp emphasizes that Cephalon has no plans to market Provigil to the all-nighter crowd. "It's not for people who work too long," he says. "It's for people with clinical illness." But as word spreads of Provigil's powers, it seems inevitable that the healthy-but-harried will be intrigued.

"Silicon Valley will go wild over this thing," says Andy Serwer, a columnist for Fortune magazine who admits to burning a fair amount of midnight oil when he's on deadline. Instead of swigging Jolt cola and espresso, software designers under the gun could simply take Provigil, which costs about $4 per pill--not much more than the price of a double latte.

But would executives pressure their employees to take a pill for the team? Possibly, says Serwer, if they heard that workers at other firms were pulling Provigil-fueled all-nighters. "You would be at a competitive disadvantage if you didn't," he says.

If any doctors have begun prescribing Provigil to college students and corporate workers under the gun, they're keeping the practice quiet. But Provigil does raise a difficult question for the medical community. What if people who work in positions where sleepiness can endanger themselves and others start asking their doctors for the drug?

Shift Workers Pose Dilemma for Doctors

Take long-haul truckers, for instance. According to federal regulations, they're supposed to take breaks every 10 hours. But many drivers ignore the law, even if it means navigating an 18-wheeler while bleary-eyed. A recent exposé by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featured an interview with one driver who admitted to being behind the wheel of his big rig for 36 straight hours.

"Do you give that person the medication to keep him awake and not kill himself and a car full of people?" asks Mahowald, of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center. "Or do you as a matter of principle say, 'No, you cannot have this medication because you don't have the proper sleep disorder'? ... Quite frankly, in the interest of public safety, I would be tempted to give the individual stimulant medication."

Not all sleep experts feel that's the right choice. "I think that becomes irresponsible," says Black. "There might be fewer accidents on our highways, but there might also be long-term health consequences" associated with using Provigil "that we aren't anticipating." Black says he will only prescribe the drug to people whose sleepiness and fatigue are caused by a medical condition or occur as a side effect from another medication. However, Black, Mahowald and other sleep researchers agree that it's unwise to think Provigil or any pill will make shut-eye optional.

"We don't understand the role sleep plays," says the Army's Caldwell. "It's a bad idea for anyone to rely on a drug of any description to maintain alertness."

And yet for Jane Jaegers and other shift workers, Provigil may mean the difference between a zombie-like existence and a normal life. And they represent a huge potential market for Cephalon. The number of shift workers in the United States increases 2% to 3% each year, says David Mitchell, a spokesman for Circadian Technologies, a Lexington, Mass., company that advises firms that want to convert to 24/7 operation.

The nationwide shift-work study should be completed by the end of this year. If the results are promising, perhaps Provigil will one day be found in the medicine cabinets of police officers, firefighters, nurses and other people who work nights. And if that happens, what's to stop the son of a shift worker from asking, "Hey, Dad, I've got a history final on Tuesday--can I bum a Provigil?"

Then again, maybe Junior won't bother asking--the medication is on sale through Internet-based pharmacies based overseas, often marketed as a "smart drug."

In "Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything" (Vintage, 2000), author James Gleick writes about our changing notion of time. Reached by e-mail, he was dubious about using a drug to lengthen our days. "In a time-obsessed age, this is the Holy Grail," said Gleick. "Cheating sleep is the closest thing we have to cheating death." However, until scientists better understand the phenomenon known as sleep, he was quick to add, "Beware of miracles."
If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives [latimes.com]. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights [lats.com].

Celastrus Seed Oil (1)

Servo (9177) | about 12 years ago | (#3361448)

I have been taking celastrus seed oil pills for a couple weeks now, which boosts energy, and claims to boost brain function too (I do know that I am much more alert, to say the least). This is an all natural item, not something that a biochemist came up with. I highly recommend it.

Re:Celastrus Seed Oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361525)

Lots of things are all natural. Lead, ammonia, chlorine, hemlock....

Doesn't mean I want to ingest them in pill form.

don't they already have pills that give you energy (1)

Jonny Balls (543700) | about 12 years ago | (#3361455)

like SPEED? oh wait, that stuff really isn't that good for you, huh

Is this wise? (3, Insightful)

FurryFeet (562847) | about 12 years ago | (#3361459)

Sleepiness is your body's way of telling you it needs rest (basically, your brain needs rest). Using drugs to avoid it strikes me as foolish, like using analgesics to ignore the pain of a broken bone (as opposed to curing it).
If you're sleepy, you need to sleep. If you're sleepy during the day, well, maybe you need to go to bed earlier.
Plus, sleeping is one of the seven capital pleasures of being human. Going to bed when you're sleepy is actually pretty nice. Why give it up?

Anyone remember the water cooler experiment? (2)

t0qer (230538) | about 12 years ago | (#3361462)

IIRC there was an experiment where a factory secretly "spiked" the water cooler with pure caffiene goodness. It produced a whopping 15% in productivity amongst the workers.

I can see the drugs manufactuer now going through trial test.

Hi we'd like to spike your water coolers with a new drug we've developed

I think it's against the law to put anything other than water in those things

This new drug is *Better* than caffiene. It should increase worker production up to 25%!

That sounds great! Where do we sign up?

.....err (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361463)

I am awake ...I do not need any sinking pill...shhhhhhh

Bad Idea (1)

delphin42 (556929) | about 12 years ago | (#3361465)

Didn't the makers of this pill see the XFiles episode where the military was doing experiments with sleep deprivation on soldiers? They succeeded in developing a procedure that eliminated the need for sleep, but unfortunately the subjects went psycho after a while.

The last thing the world needs is thousands of delusional psychopathics geeks!!!

It's called ProvIgil. (1)

Penis (301334) | about 12 years ago | (#3361467)

And you can find more info here [erowid.org].
The active ingredient is called Modafinil, and appears to have fairly low side effects.
Backtrack up a directory on the above link, and there's more info.

Mr. Peenis

As with all good things... (3, Interesting)

SkyLeach (188871) | about 12 years ago | (#3361469)

This will have horrible side effects. When will people learn that there is simply no substitute for a good night's sleep.

Even natural stuff like gensing makes you feel like pure total SH*T when it wears off. Does funky things to yer pee to...

My dad is a hard-line baptist, will not drink ANYTHING with alcohol (or even anything that looks like alcohol, i.e. IBC Root Beer and Welches sparkling grape juice) but drinks up to 5 pots of coffee a day.

He gets kinds irate when I point out he's addicted, but...

Why not try ephedrine? (2)

teamhasnoi (554944) | about 12 years ago | (#3361470)

If you're THAT in need of staying awake. You can stay awake for days on that stuff. Sure you feel funny, you may vomit, and there is a chance of death, but the devil you know is better than the one you don't, right? Right?

circle of life (1)

lowtekneq (469145) | about 12 years ago | (#3361473)

now insteed of killing themselves with sleeping pills people can do it with pills to keep you awake, funny how that works out

Increases Productivity (0)

rootmon (203439) | about 12 years ago | (#3361474)

Now maybe US workers can work even more hours and surpass other countries like South Korea and the Czech Republic who are currently more overworked.

We have this in the UK. It's called Pro Plus. (2)

wackybrit (321117) | about 12 years ago | (#3361477)

Pro Plus [proplus.co.uk]

I know a few people who pop those things all the time. I can't see the point though.. they don't work for me. Red Bull all the way baby!

Re:We have this in the UK. It's called Pro Plus. (1)

wackybrit (321117) | about 12 years ago | (#3361511)

I guess I should point out that Pro Plus *are* caffeine pills, but how many energy junkies really care about that?

Caffeine (1)

kwishot (453761) | about 12 years ago | (#3361486)

Caffeine is just a bonus for Mountain Dew. Pills will never replace Mountain Dew, for Mountain Dew tastes good! I don't know of anyone that drinks Mountain Dew to "stay awake". If people have that big of a problem staying awake, they take caffeine pills.

Mountain Dew = good taste, caffeine is a bonus for a little "kick"

Caffeine pills = keep you awake

I have a feeling that many coffee drinkers feel the same way, since they're so used to "holding a cup in the morning" or something... it's just not replaceable.

-kwishot

What "interesting ethical questions"? (5, Insightful)

stuce (81089) | about 12 years ago | (#3361488)

Where does society get off saying what people can and can't do with their own bodies, given that they are aware of the risks (or at least aware that the risks are not known). These are not questions for the government or society to ask. These are questions for individuals to ask. "Is this a good choice for me and my body?"

Drink Yerba Mate (2)

LetterJ (3524) | about 12 years ago | (#3361490)

If you're looking for a beverage that contributes to general alertness without the jitters, nervousness, irritation and general ill health that accompanies regular coffee and tea, you should take a look at drinking yerba mate.
  • Yerbamate.com [yerbamate.com] - Information and online order
  • Nativa [nativayerbamate.com]- manufacturer, online order and general information.
  • Ma-Tea [ma-tea.com] - online ordering
  • Urban Jungle Mate [urbanjungleyerbamate.com] - Online ordering and information.
  • Guayaki [guayaki.com] - Makers of a really good mint blend and chai spiced blend.

Cool! (2)

Greyfox (87712) | about 12 years ago | (#3361493)

I was going to get all snotty and say I'd had one of those for years in Vivarin, but this seems to avoid all the nasty side effects (Jitters... irritability... nosebleeds...) The army study had a guy go 40 hours while staying alert on this stuff. I would always crash at around 30-35 at the height of my caffiene abuse, and after about 28 everything would start getting kind of surreal.

They got to sell this stuff over the counter. I don't care if it makes you grow a damn tail! Gimmee!

Here's A Crazy Idea (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 12 years ago | (#3361495)

How about not running like a rat on a wheel to the point of needing drugs to function. Where do you go from here, electric shock? Warp time-space so you can work more than 24hrs a day? What the hell is so important to do this to yourself? Whatever happened to maintaining perspective and keeping balance in your life?

"Beggars in Spain" is a good book about this (2, Interesting)

512k (125874) | about 12 years ago | (#3361496)

in the (fictional) book, some children are genetically engineered to not need to sleep. They become superhuman, due to all the extra time they have to live life. But in real life, at what point do we say, enough is enough, we don't have to push ourselves this hard, and if we do, do we recalibrate what society expects of a person. Instead of giving your kids ritalin, give them Provigal.

I've used it. (5, Informative)

dietz (553239) | about 12 years ago | (#3361497)

I've used it. The longest I've ever stayed up is 40 hours or so. The only noticible side effect was a slight headache, but that could've been caused by any number of things (I get headaches a fair amount because I don't eat very well :/). Headaches are the most common reported side-effect [provigil.com] by far.

Even after 40 hours of being awake, I was still at nearly full mental capactity and able to work, etc. I did not feel the normal symptoms of sleep deprevation at all (I've stayed awake too long many times, and I'm familiar with how it makes you feel). I did not feel high, either. I was just... awake. I also didn't feel many physical problems (sore back, sore legs, etc) like I expected to, but YMMV, of course.

Afterwards I slept about 9 hours and had a normal next day. By my calculations (figuring you normally sleep .5 hours for each hour of wakefulness), that means I gained 22 hours of wakefulness.

You can find them on the internet if you look around enough. I am hesitant to mention sites, but there are two in the UK that sell 100mg pills. I have been unable to find the 200mg pills. They sell for about $145 + shipping ($15 or so) for 30 pills. That's $5.33 a pill. During my 40 hours awake, I took four, which works out to about $1 per hour.

Many people I tell this to think it would be a good idea to take them during finals. I must warn you that it's probably not a good idea because there is a very good chance your sleep schedule will get completely fucked up. For example, you may stay up for 32 hours, decide it's time for sleep, and then sleep through a final. In other words, I would take it a few times beforehand to get used to it before you decide to jump in and potentially fuck up something important.

You need to mix the stuff up. (4, Funny)

MongooseCN (139203) | about 12 years ago | (#3361503)

What happens if you mixed a pot of coffee a few liters of mountain dew and a few Provigal pills? Would you become the Kwisatz Haderach ?

The ultimate drug would be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361508)

Provigal + Viagra in one: extend your DAY and your DICK too!

Pills everywhere (1)

Foss (248146) | about 12 years ago | (#3361520)

Pills to help you sleep

Pills to keep you awake

Pills to chill out

Pills to exercise [slashdot.org]

.. all of this could be achieved with a few bottles of Pils instead.

One step in the right direction (5, Funny)

YouAreFatMan (470882) | about 12 years ago | (#3361535)

Hmm, now if I can get pills that remove my need for food, air, water, and sex, I will legally qualify as a robot.

This is -MEDICATION-! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#3361540)

I currently take this drug, and I was prescribed this drug for a specific purpose. The fact that it appears on slashdot as "the new caffeine" is disturbing, to say the least.

Thank you, slashdot, for telling the masses about medications they should ask their doctors for. While your at it, start running ads for Viagra, Prozac, Paxil, Claratin, and Ritalin.

Provigal + Viagra (2, Funny)

bryans (555149) | about 12 years ago | (#3361543)

Provigal extends your day, Viagra extends your performance, Now I can bonk all night long without falling asleep.
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