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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Miracle Sleep Pill

I don't know about you, but if I could sleep less and still get the rejuvenation required by sleep, I would be ALL OVER THAT. Don't get me wrong, sleep is awesome, especially after working out like a madman and draining all of your energy training, playing a sport with friends or in competition, exercising, pulling all-nighters... you know, whatever gets your blood pumping. Sleep does indeed feel oh so sweet. However, on the flip side, sleep is also about 7 or 8 hours of time clandestinely sneaking away in the "momentary" blink of a deceived eye. With a bit of math, we can see that if one slept, on average, 6 hours a day (accounting for the 4-5 years at MIT where sleep was not an option... hah hah) for the first 24 years of your life, he or she will have slept away approximately 1/4 of his or her life. That's a HUGE chunk: 52,416 of the 209,664 hours of your life spent sleeping. Do you know how many awesome experiences you could have engaged in with 52,416 extra hours!? Anything that has ever peaked your interest you would now have a chance at trying your hand. Matter of fact, you could develop those talents that all this time you wished you had more opportunity to develop! Do you realize how many places you could then travel to and take in the sights, sounds, culture, and adventure? Exciting!

I have been fantasizing about such a thing for some time now. Would it be possible to develop a pill that, when taken, all a human would need is one hour of sleep to be completely rejuvenated? Then I thought of the possibilities that would emerge if such a pill became reality. In my world, such a pill would be awesome! I could start drawing more, writing more, eating more, training more, researching (even cooler things) more, inventing more, traveling more, dancing more, developing even deeper relationships and tighter interactions with people, hanging out more... the list goes on. But alas, there is at least one problem with such a pill... and that is the human factor.

What's the human factor? Well, we are greedy!!! Hah hah! No matter how much we try to hide it, diminish it, or destroy it, at some inner level we hunger for more all the time. So, inevitably, people would begin to work themselves to death. People do it now! Imagine if they had more time. Would work hours increase? Some people would be of the mindset, "Hey, I can work more hours, and pull in more cash flow! Then I can buy even more things or engage in even more activity!" How would the quality of work and commitment demanded out of you from employers, educational institutions, professional societies, government, and others, change? Would we actually have more time to do more of the things we'd like to get our hands on? Or would we instead be doing more of the same, just longer hours. The truth is, this phenomeon is something we can't escape: no matter how well intentioned a thing, someone will find a way to use it for ill, in any myriad of ways that word ill can play out. The question then becomes, will the benefits outweigh the risks? But enough philosophizing. There exists now a version of this miracle pill!

Spotted on Slashdot, this pill apparently reverses the effects of sleep deprivation. It's not quite the miracle pill of my fantasy, but it is a step in that direction. Check out the article, it is pretty interesting.
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