Can Science Eliminate the Need to Sleep?

If there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. Sleep researchers may be closing in. 

What's the Latest Development?


Entrepreneurs and university scientists alike are working hard to shorten the amount of time we spend sleeping each day while maintaining essential skills like learning, concentrating and being emotionally sensitive to our environment. Stimulants ranging from caffeine to the Air Force's "go-pills", while effective, have clear limitations. Instead, augmenting the body's ability to recharge itself through sleep is where the bulk of research is currently concentrating. Scientists at Duke University, for example, have used transcranial magnetic stimulation to induce slow-wave oscillations, the once-per-second ripples of brain activity that we see in deep sleep.

What's the Big Idea?

While medical solutions for making the process of sleeping more efficient may be within our grasp, cultural practices may act as a counter current. Questions will be posed over what is "optimal" or "natural" and will require a large consensus to answer effectively. "The war against sleep is inextricably linked with debates over human enhancement, because an eight-hour consolidated sleep is the ultimate cognitive enhancer. Sleepiness and a lack of mental focus are indistinguishable, and many of the pharmaceutically based cognitive enhancers on the market work to combat both."

Read it at Aeon Magazine

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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