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Snortable Drug 'Replaces' Sleep For Monkeys In Trials

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the could-definitely-have-used-this-in-college dept.

Biotech 236

sporkme writes "A DARPA-funded research project at UCLA has wrapped up a set of animal trials testing the effects of inhalation of the brain chemical orexin A, a deficiency of which is a characteristic of narcolepsy. Monkeys were deprived of sleep, and then given a shot of the compound. 'The study ... found orexin A not only restored monkeys' cognitive abilities but made their brains look "awake" in PET scans. Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is 'specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness' without other impacts on the brain.' Researchers seem cautious to bill the treatment as a replacement for sleep, as it is not clear that adjusting brain chemistry could have the same physical benefits of real sleep in the long run. The drug is aimed at replacing amphetamines used by drowsy long-haul military pilots, but there would no doubt be large demand for such a remedy thanks to its apparent lack of side-effects."

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But can it *replace* sleep? (5, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846690)

Years ago I was asked to join a group doing government work in exploring drugs related to sleep replacement or to maintain alertness in certain groups of people. This sort of stuff made me uncomfortable then and it still gives me the creeps.

The question for me always is whether or not the drug can *replace* sleep and all of its critical physiological functions. Sleep is a complex phenomenon with very specific architectures that helps maintain learning, performance, sanity and literature suggests more far reaching benefits from regular sleep. Lots of drugs can make the brain look "awake" including amphetamines and modafinil, itself widely used by people to maintain activities in the face of sleep needs. However, there are long term biological implications for not allowing one to invoke sleep including poor long term performance on learning and memory and there is some literature that suggests cardiovascular implications as well as other problems. Now, while the adverse effects of amphetamines are well known, they have been used for at least 60 years. On the other hand, drugs like modafinil are very recent and you may be shocked to find out just how many physicians, pilots, military personnel, truck drivers and housewives are currently taking modafinil to maintain alertness in the face of lack of sleep.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (4, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846734)

This sort of thing looks just like the same kind of "quick fix", I'm really skeptical of this one too. IIRC, most of our self-repair functions happen when we sleep, so this probably has long-term implications that won't be caught in an 18 month trial.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (2, Insightful)

phillips321 (955784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847768)

The way I always see it is like this:
Our human body's through evolution have become very advanced and have developed some fantastic biological systems. If we consider that we sleep for a 3rd of our 24hours day and this is the best that evolution can do for us then there are obviously some very important processes/actions that happen when we're sleeping. If sleep wasn't such an important factor then us as animals would have surely evolved enough to not need sleep, with no sleep we would have more time to follow the necessities of life, survival, eating drinking, (and if your lucky enough) Reproduction!

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847788)

Yeah, leave it to science to try to replace the one part of my life that I really, unconditionally adore. I'm a reasonably productive person, and I've done quite a lot in my half-life, but there's nothing like 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep to make me a wonderfully happy man. I love my wife and kid. Food and sex are great. But sleep... Sleep is like the best bottle of wine you ever drank, cubed. It's like falling in love every single night. It's a fabulous journey, it's a long-sought homecoming. It's a precious fluid dropped on a parched tongue.

A drug that would make sleep unnecessary?


A world without sleep (2, Interesting)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846742)

What will happen if we ever find a way to truly avoid sleep? Will it become a requirement that we take the drug to work for a certain company? Will the company only hire people who take the anti-sleep drug or pay more to those who take it because they work longer. Will companies whose employees take anti-sleep pills 'out-compete' those who don't? Could the world eventually end up sleepless?

Re:A world without sleep (1)

Coldness (829686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846940)

It'd be interesting for sure. If they could truly replace every single function of sleep in human beings with a single, mass-producible drug the human race could be a lot more efficient in countless ways. It scares me to think of how much it'd change society, though.

Re:A world without sleep (4, Insightful)

name*censored* (884880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847004)

Like you've implied, if we DID ever find a way to avoid sleep, we'd simply end up filling our new-found time with more work. All we'd be doing is making ourselves physically/emotionally exhausted, with precious little time to even rest. Add this to the fact that we'd be taking some horrible drug that would no doubt make people feel uneasy due to the loss of their circadian rhythm, and you've got yourself one miserable world to live in.

Will it become a requirement that we take the drug to work for a certain company?
Any sensible company which required 24 hour staffing would still resort to shift workers, unless there was some major advantage to compensate the natural loss of efficiency of people working ridiculously long shifts. The company would need to pay much more to compensate the single workers' efforts and drug-taking than it would have to pay 2 or 3 shift workers. The only way that a society of sleeplessness could occur is if there was suddenly a massive shortage of jobs, and people had to sacrifice to get a job (which seems to be getting more unlikely - the "baby boomer" population is retiring and there are scarcely enough people to fill the jobs). It's much more likely that once a sizeable population starts taking the drug, society will simply expect more of people (in terms of social status/affluence), and people will take these pills to out-compete each other in the EXTRA-CURRICULAR field(s) (which may extend to the work environment).

Re:A world without sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847044)

Kress wrote about the same idea in Beggars In Spain.

Our economy would insist on soaking up some of the extra labor hours, though it already has more than it can do anything useful with. But I certainly wouldn't voluntarily miss a third of my life the way I am now.

Re:A world without sleep (4, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847128)

Well sleepless people would consume more (probably 6 meals a day) and would have more leisure time as well. This require more work/money. The important statistic is the ratio between time spent at work and time spent having fun.

Also, even if it shorten the lifespan of individuals when counted in days of life, it would be interesting to see if it extends it when counted in "awaken hours".

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (1)

yulek (202118) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847024)

otoh, talk about a simple way to extend a human's active life span by 30+% were it possible to actually eliminate the need for sleep. i am also skeptical since every cognizant living organism regardless of its family seems to require downtime but nevertheless would be really interested in gaining back those 6-7 hours i currently "waste"...

(yes i realize all the downsides including more energy/resources being consumed per individual, etc.)

Just reduce the sleep hrs needed to 3 (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847178)

If we all could have 8hrs quality of sleep in 3hrs in a burst mode, then it would be great.

And if you do need to skip 1 day every few weeks then so be it, hey I went with 1 day a week without a sleep for 3 months and it was ok.

Re:Just reduce the sleep hrs needed to 3 (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847426)

Hell, if I could just take a pill/spray and be wide awake in the morning (after saying up 'till three to finish a project), I'd be happy.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (1)

Lerc (71477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847172)

There may be good reasons for sleep, but it isn't necessarily the case that those needs cannot be met by other means.

For the most part people think that sleep must be needed because people feel sleepy. Artificially creating a disconnect between sleepiness and the need for sleep means that you may not be able to use one as a guide to the other. It is very much like the free will arguments. The strongest argument for free will is that people feel they have it but there are experiments to show the feeling is an illusion.

The implications are

Just because you are not sleepy doesn't mean you don't need sleep.
but also
If you are sleepy you may not actually need sleep.

You need a totally separate assessment.

Keep people on this stuff for a month and you should get some good clues on how to assess it.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847612)

For the most part people think that sleep must be needed because people feel sleepy.

No, people think that they need sleep because not sleeping will kill [] you.

One could also use simple logic: you are vulnerable while you sleep, so if it isn't an actual physical need, I doubt very much it would be as widespread phenomenom as it is.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847396)

More fraudulent 'research' from sick bastards, otherwise known as 'vivisectionists'.
If animal tests ACCURATELY predicted human outcomes of drugs and medical procedures, there would be no need for HUMAN EXPERIMENTS, otherwise known as 'clinical trials' - drugs would be able to go straight from 'animal tests' onto the HUMAN market. But NONE of them do. They are ALL tested on HUMANS after being 'tested' on animals, and NINETY TWO PERCENT FAIL those HUMAN tests.
Which unequivocally proves that vivisection is a fraud. ALL advances in drugs and medicine have come through the HUMAN EXPERIMENTS performed either after, or instead of, animal 'tests'...

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (4, Insightful)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847490)

Cool. Let me know when all you PETA morons line up to be in those "we didn't use any animals at all so we have no way of knowing what this drug will really do to you" clinical trials.

What's that? No, you can't back out. Think of the animals!

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (1)

martinussen (986404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847590)

The thing about this one is, it isn't a stimulant. It's a hormone that seems to have much to do with sleep. Instead of forcing the brain to stay awake, it seems to use the brain's own systems for measuring sleepiness.

Re:But can it *replace* sleep? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847700)

It could replace sleep, if it would have the same effect. But the only effect that is named, is that you are not tired and have normal brain function. I would argue that the only effect of sleep is to restore normal brain function. We all know the brain is very active when we sleep, it actually does something in that time.

That looks at the thing from the wrong side. Do we need sleep because we get tired? I don't think so. We get tired because we need sleep.

A cure for the editors? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846698)

Does this mean an end to shoddy editing?

Replacement for sleep? (3, Insightful)

Wicko (977078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846718)

How can this replace sleep? Muscles need to rest, too. I guess it would be useful for us that need to sleep with one eye open. A drug for the paranoid.

Re:Replacement for sleep? (4, Funny)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846736)

Exactly. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not after you...

Re:Replacement for sleep? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847260)


(if you are, they notice it)

Re:Replacement for sleep? (1)

SD-Arcadia (1146999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847316)

Muscles are resting any time they are not contracting you don't need to be sleeping. According to my humble PSY undergrad knowledge, sleep is almost exclusively for the nervous system (that includes the brain). But the exact function is very elusive. For example, I think I recall you can keep a mammal alive indefinitely if you feed and allow it enough rest in a non-sleeping state.

2 am post (4, Funny)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846722)

A 2 am post about a drug to replace sleep, now isn't that ironic!

Re:2 am post (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846752)

WTF are you talking about? It's not even midnight yet, cockfag!

Re:2 am post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846814)

I live in New York, you insensitive clod!

Re:2 am post (3, Informative)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846776)

A 2 am post about a drug to replace sleep, now isn't that ironic!
No, it isn't:

ironic [] (comparative more ironic, superlative most ironic)
      1. Both coincidental and contradictory in a humorous or poignant and extremely improbable way.

- RG>

Re:2 am post (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846798)

It is coincidental and humorous in an improbable way.

Re:2 am post (1)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846914)

...but not contradictory.

Re:2 am post (3, Funny)

Plunky (929104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847238)

yes it is

Re:2 am post (2, Insightful)

GuruBuckaroo (833982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847318)

No it isn't.

Re:2 am post (1)

yafujifide (716502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847168)

A 2 am post about a drug to replace sleep, now isn't that appropriate!

replacement vs supplement (3, Interesting)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846726)

I doubt this drug would permanently replace sleep without some form of side-effect. However, I'm sure it could work as a good "supplement" to sleep for periods of time where awareness is crucial. A low side effect No Doze?

Supplement (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846754)

Gosh, you can sell anything as a supplement these days even lead, you just have to have the obligatory "not intended to cure or treat any disease," on it and your good.

Re:Supplement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847032)

you just have to have the obligatory "not intended to cure or treat any disease," on it and your good.

And my good what?

Re:replacement vs supplement (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846788)

I would expect the same sort of super paranoia and psychosis that you see in speed freeks.
that kind of mental and psychical degradation comes mostly from the fact that tweekers don't sleep. Meth does terrible things to your insides but the crazy behavior comes mostly from the lack of sleepy time.
I bet a day or two every once and a while works fine. 4 or 5 24 hour shifts a week, driving a truck? I think that I would not like to be involved in that.
sleep is a GOOD thing. People might try getting more sleep, not less. If it's "really got to get there" you might consider more than one driver.
just my $.02

Monkey Trials? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846730)

Set the wayback machine to 1925, Sherman.

On the other hand, we might get some Shakespeare out of the little critters yet.

Re:Monkey Trials? (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847646)

I knew it was only a matter of time before they started traning as lawyers.

Will Smith said not to research crazy new drugs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846740)

You know who else don't need sleep?


Pilots on meth? (0)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846744)

So, does that imply that our pilots, right now, today, are flying around on meth? I realize that there's a world of difference between a monitored person in excellent health taking a medication under close medical supervision, and some junkie shooting up in an alley, but that's still a weird thought.

Re:Pilots on meth? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846796)

Amphetamine != Methamphetamine.

Not all amphetamine has a methyl group attached to it. Most pilots that require drugs like this use Dexedrine (dextro-amphetamine).

Re:Pilots on meth? (2, Funny)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846804)

No no no of course pilots arent taking meth while flying.

Its just the military pilots. You know, the ones with nukes strapped to their plane. :D

Re:Pilots on meth? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846934)

The amphetamines used by pilots are very slow-acting (by amphetamine standards) so they don't produce quite as much of the "jittery high" that is usually associated with their more common forms. 8+ hours later when the amphetamine pill finally wears off and the pilot is capable of sleeping again he will, if by no other means than running out of fuel, have ended the mission and found a safer place to catch up on the missed sleep. Potent stimulants have been used by combat troops since WWII so various world militaries have presumably become the reigning experts by now on their effects when used in extreme moderation.

The aforementioned controls notwithstanding, I'd much rather have pilots with nukes alert at the end of a 20-hr flight than dozing off. I'll put this into context for my fellow geeks: If you've ever been sleep-deprived at a LAN Party I'm sure you realize how much microsleep can throw off your aim and timing. Now double that no-sleep time, add in stress from the real threat of being shot down, and replace your mouse with the targeting mechanism for a 10-ton precision bomb that really shouldn't end up in the preschool next door (collateral damage?) ;)

Long-haul truckers, on the other hand, have a jittery high from the no-doze and a pretty debilitating crash on its way long before the end of their route. That being said, I like to make the generalization that awake people are universally safer than sleeping people when it comes to controlling large masses of fast-moving metal and even more so when you add combustible/hazardous materials.

Re:Pilots on meth? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846902)

History is filled with armies fueled by foreign chemicals that may be label as "drugs". I'm just a little sadder to know that apparently so much effort is still going into war (and I consider myself to be all for violence).

Re:Pilots on meth? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846958)

To be perfectly honest, yes many USAF pilots use a derivative of methamphetamines commonly referred to as "Go-Pills". When you're making a 16 hour flight just ---to--- your bombing target, it helps to stay awake and alert. Especially if you expect resistance when you arrive. They're only legal if you're on flight status, monitored intensely by a physician, and get off them as soon as mission allows.

Why not modafinil? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846760)

Provigil (modafinil) has been shown to remove the need for sleep for days on end without any side effects, including the fun ones, like euphoria. Why are pilots still popping dexies?

Re:Why not modafinil? (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846898)

Maybe they like the euphoria. Maybe dexies have other benefits other than delaying the need for sleep.

Re:Why not modafinil? (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847272)

I'm sure that commercial pilots aren't doing that since the autopilot is flying the plane and there is more than one pilot on board, so a nap is feasible.

I wonder why long haul military pilots are any different, surely they also have more than one person on board?

Cool! (-1, Redundant)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846768)

Snortable Red Bull!

All we've got is... (3, Insightful)

n1000 (1051754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846778)

..."No apparent side effects"

More research needs to be done before we can have a worthwhile discussion of this as a "sleep replacement."

Also, this would not be a permanent replacement, so no trying to bash this study with the 'The human body needs sleep' argument.

Re:All we've got is... (2, Insightful)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846856)

I do wonder if it can be applied as a quick fix.

It would have to work nearly instantly, though... imagine a sleepy driver. The car's computer can detect the drowsiness, make a surprising, loud noise to snap the driver awake, and spray a mist of this drug in his face. Enough to get home safely, but not enough to hamper the real sleep he'll get when he gets home.

Re:All we've got is... (1)

nbritton (823086) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847144)

Provigil (Modafinil) can already do what you and this article describe... The only down side is that it costs $250 a month.

Speculation (5, Interesting)

localman (111171) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846780)

Without having performed any research at all, I'm going to speculate that actual sleep is very important. In the wild it is dangerous to be unconscious for hours at a time. If it wasn't absolutely necessary, then nature would have found a way to avoid it. Or, more correctly stated, not needing sleep would seem to be a pretty amazing advantage.

But, almost anything with measurable cognitive abilities needs sleep. So there must be some very important work going on there. Probably laying down neural hardlines where temporary chemicals were making pathways before? I'm just guessing, but it's got to be something that requires a partial shutdown.

I think the technology is cool and would be useful for some things, though. I'm always in favor of exploring the outer limits of our abilities. It will be very interesting to see what happens if a person uses this chemical sleep exclusively for, say weeks at a time. Maybe we'll learn what sleep is really for by seeing what stops working correctly. My guess is that they'll not be able to recall anything beyond the past couple days. Things that happened too far back in their wakefulness will not get layed down as long term memories and will be permanently lost.

That is, it'll be kind of like Memento except with, say, a 72 hour working memory instead of 10 minutes.

Re:Speculation (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846862)

my bet is that they go insane before anything else. supressing the urge to sleep is very different to replacing sleep, in the same fashion that being constipated is not a replacment for taking a shit.

Re:Speculation (5, Funny)

Disseminated (1022915) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846950)

Well that sure beats the hell out of a car analogy!

Re:Speculation (4, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846886)

A lot of this is already known to science. There is a family that (I think) has a prion disease such that if a family member gets it, they stay awake until they die a few months later - and it sounds like a very horrible death too.

Here's a link to the story I heard about. []

Re:Speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847278)

On the other hand ... who knows, maybe this will be an effective treatment for that syndrome!

Re:Speculation (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846922)

There is a flaw in your idea that evolution only ends up keeping that which is absolutely necessary for survival. Sometimes evolution ends up keeping features that are detrimental to creature's survival or reproductive ability in the short run for some indirect "purpose". Consider the huge and awkward tail of the peacock or the vulnerable external genitalia we male humans have.

Perhaps needing to be unconscious for hours at a time is one of the reasons many animals have to join together in groups, and those groups are where the benefit is. If that, or something like it, were the case, then we might not need to sleep anymore if we can avoid the physiological mechanisms that cause it.

Re:Speculation (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847722)

Consider the huge and awkward tail of the peacock

Neccessary to attract a mate; increases the chances of breeding.

or the vulnerable external genitalia we male humans have.

Neccessary to keep the sperm at optimal temperature, which is lower than the optimal temperature for the rest of the body. Increases your chances of breeding, and isn't actually all that vulnerable; if an enemy is close enough to kick you in the balls, it is close enough to rip out your throat.

Re:Speculation (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847056)

In the wild it is dangerous to be unconscious for hours at a time. If it wasn't absolutely necessary, then nature would have found a way to avoid it.

Being unconscious may well have been slightly less of a disadvantage than the gains animals get from it. Growing to 3 meters tall would have been an amazing advantage as well, and it's not inherently necessary for humans to be 1/3rd shorter, as we are.

Sleep may well just be a method to conserve energy (see: hibernation) during the useless hours of the day, when an animal isn't going to be able to find food anyhow. If you need to rest for 1/3rd of the day to recover from physical exertion, maybe being unconscious isn't that much more of a leap. Perhaps varying levels of unconsciousness, and the ability to wake up at a moment's notice upon hearing a threatening sound, mitigated the dangers in the wild (see: cat naps).

Re:Speculation (5, Interesting)

kawdyr (1209648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847148)

Actually, one important theory of sleep says the opposite - that we evolved it to keep us OUT of trouble - saving energy and avoiding roaming, which puts us at greater risk of meeting predators. As I recall, this theory is (partially) supported by diet being one of the best predictors of the amount of sleep an animal needs. Of course if that was sleep's only purpose, you'd think we'd stay conscious for it so we could react to a predator that found us... so it's probably quite multi-faceted. Sleep [] - See preservation and protection theory

Re:Speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847152)

Maybe it's a kernel update.

I've also done no research on sleep, but would being awake 24h really be a survival advantage?
Our eyes are bad for seeing at night.
Maybe lying down and not moving at night meant you were less likely to be found and eaten by something that can see well in the dark.

That would make sleep redundant now.

Re:Speculation (2, Interesting)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847474)

The selective pressures of the environment are radically altered by presence or absence of daylight. This profound change results in two separate ecosystems. Sleep is a hack to enable survival in both worlds. Those species best adapted to a lit world will find their more restless members get eaten if they don't sit absolutely still at night. And vice-versa. Evolving to be competitive in both worlds is a much taller order. Evolution settles for the first solution that assures reproduction, not the ultimate ideal solution. Because this hack has been around since our microbial days, other architectural features have evolved around it as a given. Removing the need for sleep will require addressing all of these features built up around sleep, not just alertness.

Re:Speculation (1)

Deaddy (1090107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847754)

>>Probably laying down neural hardlines where temporary chemicals were making pathways before? As far as I know it's really something like that. I've seen an experiment from a researcher group (iirc from the Frauenhofer Institut in Germany) on TV, where they measured the performance of people in a reaction-game and their brain-activity in order to see if the brain learns while sleeping. The result was that the brain was very active at night, especially the areas they used for learning the game and the next day the tested people also performed much better. So at least if you want to increase your skills sleep probably will be important, however I don't know if this is that necessary if you only want to nuke someone.

A quote from my high school days (3, Insightful)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846782)

"Thanks to modern chemistry sleep is now optional"

This sort of stuff creeps me out. As BWJones commented, we don't know enough about exactly how sleep works and what its function is in our mental health to start eliminating it by messing with the brain's chemistry. This will likely end up being abused by someone, be it the military, commercial pilots, or students trying to cram for a test, or some sicko as part of a brain washing regime, it doesn't matter, it will happen and it won't be pretty.

I'll stick with coffee thank you very much.

Sleep in a can (1)

Starvingboy (964130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846800)

For YEARS I've been saying the first person to make sleep in a can would make a fortune. Being able to work all night, then "Catch up" on my sleep while driving to all day classes would be awesome.

Re:Sleep in a can (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847008)

Being able to work all night, then "Catch up" on my sleep while driving to all day classes would be awesome.
I don't think others on the road would appreciate you sleeping while driving to your classes.

Re:Sleep in a can (1)

Starvingboy (964130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847290)

I think you misunderstand. I meant you would have the ability to reach into the back seat and grab a can of "8 hours quality sleep". IF (and I remain skeptical) this crap works as advertised, you could lead a double life and catch up on actual factual sleep on weekends. As is, I and many people I know DO drive while half asleep. We have a running joke about the car's "Auto-drive" system.

lan party! (1)

nilbog (732352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846820)

ZOMG this is going to lead to some absolutely heinous lan parties!

In related news... (5, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846826)

...Sysadmins have recently discovered they can improve uptime by eliminating routine maintenance.

Re:In related news... (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846874)

..Sysadmins have recently discovered they can improve uptime by eliminating routine maintenance.


Sysadmins know that regular scheduled downtime is necessary to keep things running smoothly. A well designed system can take certain parts offline without causing a noticible loss of service. The human brain runs roughly similarly; parts can come and go from service (sleep, etc) and the brain will keep running.

Regular scheduled downtime in controlled conditions keeps your machine running smoothly. Ignoring the routine maintenance and just keeping up 24x7x365x? will wind up with a critical failure in the xeon reprocessing unit (random BOFH excuse) that causes a downtime of indeterminate length while you wait for said EOL'd critical part to be shipped in from China.

The body is really no different. Sleep is the time that it does all the routine maintenance and even makes some fairly extensive repairs.

Re:In related news... (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846946)

Man that joke flew right over your head.

I was wondering what the managers here were giving us to keep us going. hmmm more powdered donuts please!

Re:In related news... (1)

clark0r (925569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847202)

i would mod this funny if i had points

Gamers will love this (1)

phalse phace (454635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846848)

Gamers in Taiwan, Korea, China, et al. have been dying for this.....

Zombocalypse! (1)

TheBlunderbuss (852707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846892)

Boy if this doesn't sound like the beginnings of a real-life zombie infestation! []

Some people already do live without sleep (3, Interesting)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846906)

A few years back, I did some reading from a semi-reliable source (maybe Reader's Digest) about two people in the world who can't sleep for more than a few minutes.

One was a guy in his twenties who lived in Israel. An explosion left some shrapnel in his brain and could no longer sleep. When I read the story, he was just finishing a Law degree.

Another story was about an older man in Germany who hadn't been able to sleep at least since his teens. He was 50ish and could sleep for up to 5 minutes at best. He lived a relatively normal life.

Obviously in some cases, the body can adjust to getting by without sleep - I wonder if their bodies learned how to overproduce this chemical?

Re:Some people already do live without sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846974)

Image a beowulf cluster of these guys...

In all seriousness, this is the second time I mention on slashdot that a SciFi-like success of man over sleep will just mean the immediate implementation of a new world-wide workweek. Those behind the curve in making the transition will have serious health issues if they compete against a new mainstream of people who'll work, say, 15-hour days. Talk about needing a daily vacation from work!

Ever heard the phrase "rest in peace?" Sleep is relaxing, if anything is to be said in its defense. Otherwise, we only have death. Meditation isn't used as much as it should, and I don't see the status quo of hyperenabled lives turning to a more meditative workday to re-implement that "brain-death" sanity that sleep grants us from our busy lives.

Re:Some people already do live without sleep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21846998)

polyphasic sleep, look into it.

there is also fatal familial insomnia, however. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847046) []

I'm not certain about your information about being able to survive without sleep. There's also what happens to people with severe sleep apnea which can cause heart problems, problems with the metabolism, paranoia, depression, anxiety and high blood pressure.

Re:there is also fatal familial insomnia, however. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847532)

Apnea is not the same thing at all as inability to sleep due to an altered brain chemistry.

Patients with apnea do in fact sleep for periods, the inability to sleep caused by an unconcious physical action that allows the throat to close (or breathing to stop). This eventually triggers an autonomic physical reaction in the body - to gasp for air. It is that physical reaction that wakens the subject.

What apnea patients *can* suffer from is lack of REM sleep - they just can't stay asleep long enough ... and that has been linked with all of the ailments you cite ...

I Am Legend... (1)

skeftomai (1057866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846924)


Re:I Am Legend... (1)

coldcell (714061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847328)

A movie about a mutated viral cure for cancer that turns humans into light-sensitive, non-functioning crazies, compared with a drug designed to temporarily alleviate sleep symptoms?

I'm all for zombie scares, but this one seems a little too far.

So what I'm left wondering is (1)

skulgnome (1114401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846938)

Considering that the brain doesn't get any rest like it's supposed to, on this dope... Will users go utterly batshit nuts from not having slept at the six or eleven day mark? Like speed freaks who've stayed up all week.

If only... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846954)

Man my productivity would increase in and out of work. My muscles get enough rest sitting in an idle state at my desk for 8 hours a day as it is. It's almost like they get a full-night's rest. If only my brain would stay awake past 2 in the afternoon...

Snortable? What filters? (1)

daveb (4522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846966)

Am I the only one who clicked on this carelessly wondering what new snort filters someone was playing with?

The Candle That Burns Brighter.. (1)

Layth (1090489) | more than 6 years ago | (#21846990)

Electric shock will keep you awake too. In fact, I'm reminded of a study where rats were jolted awake every time REM was detected. Eventually they died, and from what I understand humans will eventually die if they are sufficiently sleep deprived as well. Sleep is healthy, and that should be obvious. Equally obvious is the fact that some people will abuse drugs to increase their productivity. The candle that burns brighter, melts away faster. People will make their own decisions, with their own lives. No law is going to change that. As long as they're not cracked out, trying to rob me and score another sleepless night I say live and let die.

Re:The Candle That Burns Brighter.. (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847240)

And then, of course, the people you work for will start using all those little off-the-books tricks like suggestions about advancement, sudden "discipline problems" after 15 years of stellar service, hints about needing to "rationalize staffing levels" and such to make damned sure not only that you use the drug, but that you give all that extra time you'll have available to the company.

Dear God! (2, Funny)

krs804 (986193) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847116)

Don't let my boss see this.

Snorting (1)

cluke (30394) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847160)

As an aside, who discovered "snorting" as a delivery mechanism for drugs (as opposed to eating or smoking)? And why do people only snort certain drugs, what makes those particular ones suitable?

(I will leave the discussion on suppositories for another day ;-)

Re:Snorting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21847270)

Snorting and breathing aerosols are both quick ways to get molecules directly into the bloodstream, almost as good as injection without demanding the same precautions and skill. Smoking is just a low-tech way of mixing an aerosol with cumulative toxins, and digestion is slow, unpredictable, and breaks down some active ingredients. Which is best probably depends on molecule size (which barriers can it cross) and stability (is it getting there intact) and likely harm to exposed tissues (which chewing tobacco and snorting cocaine are infamous for).

Re:Snorting (1)

coldcell (714061) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847312)

I am no pharmacologist, but...

Perhaps only certain drugs can be powdered fine enough for decent distribution over the nasal capilliary system, and maybe some others (heroin, see Pulp Fiction) would produce much too extreme a reaction at snortable doses. My aunt talked of her old college days huffing icing sugar and getting high, so it's probably a really powerful delivery method. Maybe snorting is common in illegal substances because you don't need any other equipment or parephinalia to use the drug?

Re:Snorting (1)

dasmoo (1052358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847368)

Except however you can snort heroin. Pretty much any semi dried powder can go up the old nose. You probably wouldn't want to snort plants, but hey, snuff was a pretty popular way to get a nicotine fix at one point in time.

I'm not into snorting, I just watch way too many documentaries while I'm on acid.

Re:Snorting (1)

Palpitations (1092597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847424)

As an aside, who discovered "snorting" as a delivery mechanism for drugs (as opposed to eating or smoking)? And why do people only snort certain drugs, what makes those particular ones suitable?
There's a surprisingly detailed history on the insufflation [] page over at Wikipedia. As for what makes something suitable? Water soluble, with small enough molecules to make it through the mucus membrane, and that doesn't cause an unbearable amount of irritation. I'm sure I'm missing quite a few things that would factor in to it, but I believe those are the most important ones.

Sounds familiar (2)

Noramskull (1138429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847256)

A drug that needs to be snorted and makes the test subjects feel awake? Sounds to me like someone just reinvented cocaine.

The new norm.. (2, Insightful)

Unlikely_Hero (900172) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847266)

If this works there's a good chance that sleep won't become optional, it will become a dream. Computers promised the same thing, paperless office, more productivity, but they brought their own issues. I love computers, don't get me wrong, but the fact remains that the promise of lots more leisure time was an empty promise.
Free time will be filled with more work to do. In a world where sleep is optional, some people will be willing to work 20 hours a day or more. Slowly, this will become expected.

This tech is here to stay; trying to change that would just be silly. If, as posters above have said, this isn't really a sleep replacement then it's only a matter of time, the tech will come.
Some people will try to call it "unnatural" or "evil", it won't make a difference.
The question is,
how will you react when it happens and you're asked to come in for an 18 hour workday instead of your normal 8-12 to "stay competitive".
Is it that crazy of an idea that maybe people should /relax/ with their freetime instead of adding work?...
*sadly goes off and reads a book*

Keep this stuff out of Japan (1)

iandog (449451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847570)

The folks here in Japan already don't sleep enough and use all kinds of bad for you stimulant drinks to wake you up and give you energy. I can just see everybody and his brother taking this drug in order to avoid sleep even more. But of course with Japan's record of approving and/or not banning known dangerous drugs (currently there is a scandal going on about people contracting hepatitis from dangerous drugs) that have been banned by the FDA in the 'States, I'm sure they would approve something like this for general use anyway.

But... (1)

Cheezymadman (1083175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847650)

They never catch the dragon...

Obligatory Star Trek reference... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847666)

Oooh Better! []

Oblig. (1)

Praseodymn (195411) | more than 6 years ago | (#21847696)

In Soviet Russia, sleep replaces YOU!
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