Modafinil 24-hour Living Through Chemistry

This is not a new story, but Slashdot brought it back up again, and it lets me fill a hole in my database.

What would it be like if you never had to sleep? That is the subject of the wonderful story Shuteye for the Timebroker by Paul Di Filippo. He writes about "A-som," an anti-somnolence drug, and its effect on society:

Developed countries who could afford the pricey proprietary drugs now operated on twenty-four/seven time. (The poore nations remained zones of sleep infiltrated by rich elites of the perpetually wakeful.) The vast majority of the citizens of America, for instance, made no distinction among any of the hours in any given twenty-four hour period. Work and play, study and travel, might occur at any time of the day.
(Read more about A-som)

It appears that some people are already moving to a twenty-hour day, or even strings of 48-hour wakefulness. Drugs like modafinil are described as promoting wakefulness; modafinil is prescribed to narcoleptics.

The more we understand about the body's 24-hour clock the more we will be able to override it," says Russell Foster, a circadian biologist at Imperial College London. "In 10 to 20 years we'll be able to pharmacologically turn sleep off. Mimicking sleep will take longer, but I can see it happening." Foster envisages a world where it's possible, or even routine, for people to be active for 22 hours a day and sleep for two...

If that sounds unlikely, think about what is already here. Modafinil has made it possible to have 48 hours of continuous wakefulness with few, if any, ill effects.
(From Get ready for 24-hour living)

More and more people are taking this drug to participate in 22-hour per day wakefulness. Read more at NewScientist; read Slashdotter comments (ignore the intro that states "New Scientist is running an article..." - it's an old story).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/22/2006)

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