To Sleep Perchance to Dream: New Drug May Eliminate Sleepiness

Bernhard_Strigel_005_2.JPGThe way American work environments function is amazing. Law firms and similar professional services industries often require absurd hours of work per 24 hours, per week, per month, and per year. How well one functions at two in the morning for weeks on end seems to be a low-grade form hazing to prove what I am not sure. Certainly the quality of the work has a chance of declining at those points. Indeed some states have laws preventing doctors from working too many hours without sleep as a way to reduce fatigue-related errors. Now thanks to the folks at DARPA (the technology arm of the Department of Defense) who funded some UCLA scientists all that may be gone. In other words be afraid.

Wired reports that “Darpa-funded scientists might have found a drug that will eliminate sleepiness. A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests.” As one person interviewed noted whether someone using the drug would not be susceptible to other problems stemming from sleep deprivation is unknown. Before firms and other employers get excited the drug is at an early stage and FDA approval is likely far away. Still given the way many rely on stimulants to meet job demands, don’t be surprised to hear that Starbucks has begun to poke around the research or approval process.

For one set of numbers regarding the amount of sleep one should have in a night (still eight by the way) check out this report.

Image: Wikicommons

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