Monday, January 07, 2008

A Sleepless Dream Come True

I have always found sleeping a waste of time. My parents find my nocturnal tendencies pretty normal now and get worried if I go to bed before the wee hours of the morning. I have this bad habit of stretching myself in many things, sleep being no exception—my average slumber on weekdays turns out to be little over 5 hours, and on the weekends to 7 hours. I try to be up with my computer on the lap till I literally fall asleep. Oftentimes my friends on the opposite side of the globe suddenly find themselves talking to a non-respondent, snoring ashes, oblivious of the repeated BUZZ!es on the IM window in the middle of a conversation; the clock might say fivish in the morning then.

I have always wished I could stay up longer utilizing time, though I am never able to make proper use of it; I would rather keep awake and waste time reading irrelevant stuff over the internet or chat about trivial issues or simply surf channels on the television or check my emails several times, but nevertheless, that’s not the point. The essence is I want to waste as less time on sleep as possible. Maybe if I know I would not fall asleep, I’d be able to plan out and execute things in a better fashion.

I had often wished there was some alternative to sleep, a pill or something. A recent study by Darpa-funded scientists at UCLA has made my dream come true. The research advocates a naturally occurring brain hormone Orexin A to be a promising candidate to become a sleep-replacement drug. This peptide could be used in a nasal spray, as it was used in the relatively benign study on primates, which reversed the effects of sleep deprivation, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests.

Such a product could be widely desired by millions of people across the world who feel twenty-four hours a bit too less to do all that they want to. People would use it to work or party longer, or to increase alertness wherever and whenever needed. Students could work and study and enjoy, reducing the inactive time in bed. Working mothers can do full justice to their children and work. Children could stuff going to school and completing their homework and playing—all in a day without the loss of any one of them.

On a larger scale, countries legalizing this drug may develop into faster-rising economies than the ones prohibiting its use, for the simple reason their people would be able to work longer hours. Salaries would plunge because of instant doubling of manpower. Securities can keep round-the-clock vigil with less number of shifts and much lesser risk. Well, there can be several unpredictable uses that can change the world around us.

However, I am not very optimistic about the drug hitting the shelves very soon. I believe it is still “miles to go before I don’t sleep”. For one, some other counter-research might find not sleeping resulting in cardiovascular or metabolic disorders, or worse, impotency and infertility, as half of the studies on half of your daily actions reveal. Second, any commercial treatment using Orexin A would need approval from the FDA, which can take several years.

Till then I can only use caffeine and lose sleep dreaming about an anti-sleeping-pill.


Violet said...

Well.. as much as you wish this drug to be successful, I can never be convinced to use it. There is nothing that can replace the sheer pleasure of sleeping, and lazing arnd the bed once I get up. And how will you ever have dreams? Nightmares actually, but I prefer calling them dreams. Imagine losing out on gems like Kubla Khan...

Shailendra said...

Anti Sleeping-Pills.. u would be killing one of the wonderful things which is there in life.. and which most of the Human being cherish. C the problem with u is that u want to sleep.. in fact u shld sleep.. b'coz there is no point in wasting the bandwidth n electricity by staying up all day n nite :) These non-living things also need some rest other wise they will also perish before their destined end... No support from my side on these "PILLS" .. Light lo be..n so jao.. :-)

ashes said...


Well, this drug would be totally choice-based. You might not want to use the spray or take the pill when you want to enjoy sleeping and lazing around the bed.

But you might want to take it occasionally, say when you have an urgent deadline and you had to leave from work early and you could not work from home either because your daughter had a bad tummy ache. You might want an extra day for the release next morning. In case you are too fatigued to even sit up, this drug can come to your rescue, and you can squeeze that extra day in the night after your daughter goes to bed.

Re dreams, again, this drug would not make us forget sleep and hence dreams altogether. If we do not dream, we'd be losing on much more than gems like Kubla Khan. For instance, you'd have lost out on various daily objects because there would have not been many polymers, plastics and rubbers because there would have been no benzene but for a dream.

So essentially, such a drug will free you from the slavery of sleepiness, it will give you the power to tame it.

ashes said...


I understand and appreciate your non-support for the sleep-drug but the problem with me is that I want to sleep? Now can I humbly request you to reveal the symptoms that aided you to diagnose that?

Rishabh Makrand said...

What I believe..sleeping is must..cutting down that with help of any means will be an injustice to the body(though you feel fresh, after having that pill/s). we are getting mechanized in every and very aspects of life, but this(sleep) is the only thing which keeps us to remain the same for thr next day..
believe it or not the biological clock which is embeded within us needs the "sleep".
I am really not sure how much the medicine you are talking about can keep this clock proper.
may be there wont be a spontanious side effects but in a longer span of time it may affect.. it may reduce the life span itself... it may stimulates the clock to run fast :).. and then again for those who believe that 24Hrs are less.. wont be able to finish "all that" what they want to finsh the their span of life.
there is a good saying "saaman 100 baras ka hai pal ki khabar nahi".

anu said...

Well....I think any person who says 24 hours are less for him is either a slow worker or a lier....and moreover I have never seen or heard any1 who dont wan 2 sleep....Every person loves to sleep....Y take the pleasure of dreaming when we can have other options for the same....

Cuckoo said...

Are we not becoming robots by adapting to these methods ?
What about the physical need of the body ? Our body needs rest as well. As you pointed out to one commenter here, we can have the option of taking the pill at our will but don't you think it'll become a habit slowly ?

The ones who want to work 24X7 will harm their bodies in the long run in order to gain something now ?

Well, as far as I am concerned, I can be awake for 2 days w/o taking any pill and I think that's more than enough. :-)

BTW, good info. Thanks for sharing and go to sleep today... ooops tonight. :-)

ashes said...


Re this(sleep) is the only thing which keeps us to remain the same for thr next day.. Well, what if the pill promises the same freshness, and keeps you ramain the same for the next day. We can simply not rule out as this being not possible.

Re the lifespan, well, I dont know how would keeping up longer reduce your lifespan. Your argument is based on the assumption that the longer you stay awake, the more you are spending out of the alloted awake time, thereby reducing your life. It is as if the time you sleep is not a part of your life.

Anyways, thanks for putting out your thoughts. We shall know it for sure only by futher research.

ashes said...


Welcome to my blog. I did not know you visited here.

Well, what the person who says 24 hours are less might be a slow worker if he is not able to do what others are able to in that span. However, if someone wants to do more than what an average person does in a day, or might want to double up as a professional and a homemaker, as in the comments above, they might be efficient, honest workers looking for more time to fulfill their aspirations.

And as I said above, it shall be a power you could exercise on choice. If you love sleep for the sheer joy of it, simply don't take the pill. Anyways, keep coming and commenting.

Roli said...

It is true that one should take enough sleep and it cannot be replaced by any pill. Do you remember, in one of my previous comments in your blog, I asked you to sleep properly.

But from last few days even I am not able to get sound sleep and in the mean time you published this post of yours, which made me think that if you have such a pill then atleast we can have a sleepless yet useful night and be energetic for the next day.

As others said that nothing can replace sleep but dont they realise that it is the same as if they take medication if they are not well. Similarly if you have lots of work and 24hrs are less then they should have an option to take a pill and work normally without affecting work, it is basically getting a substitute to sleep. Although if one knows how to manage time, they wont have such circumstances.

Now, as Rishabh said that "may be there wont be a spontanious side effects but in a longer span of time it may affect.. it may reduce the life span itself... " but if one is not able sleep due to work pressure or due to any other reason then will it also not reduce the life span.

Some friends of mine always complain that they dont have much time, why doesnt a day have more than 24hrs. I have a friend who is a doctor, and he is eagerly waiting for such pills.

ashes said...


As I said to another commenter above, what if this pill provides you the same kind of aftereffect as rest?

It might become a habit for workaholics and misosomnists. But then there are several things readily available in the market that become habits very soon, and cause much more harm. This drug, at least from the initial studies, looks quite benign.

Re harming their bodies in the long run, I would say, assuming for once that this pill would harm your body in the long run, what is the point of putting off work and of preserving the body for those put-off tasks?

Good that you can survive two days without a pill. People like you would definitely make the inventors and manufacturers crib. :)

ashes said...


You are the only one as of yet who is not in deep love with sleeping and is not outrightly rejecting the possibility and questioning the usefulness of such a drug. You seem to have found out certain use cases where this anti-sleep drug would come in handy.

Your logic comparing this drug with any other medication is quite good. As people take other drugs to fix up ailments, sleep in the time when you don't need it can be considered an ailment, and this drug the remedy.

Yes, time management can cure many of our illnesses, sleep being one of them.

So, you already know another like-minded gentleman, and that too a Doctor. :) Maybe Doctor Saheb can provide us some technical details.

Anadi Misra said...

Your blog is popular....Just a few days of laziness (and your publishing glitch :D)and now instead of being the 1st, my comment is below a dozen other.

1st of, consider yourself lucky. If I sleep less than 8 hrs a day, I feel cranky and irritable. Lets trade places :)

I quickly glanced through some of the comments, I guess most arguments have already been made. So I will repeat them :D

1. I think that the 'Keeping Awake' pill will have pros and cons like the Sleeping Pill (Efficient use of 'awake' time, Addiction, side effects, long-term affects). So the argument of disturbing 'nature' (as if we haven't done that since we came on this planet) hardly holds any merit IMHO.

2. My main concern even the other day was....probably this pill just 'tells' the brain its not how does the body recuperate from the wear and tear ? (BTW, there are various diseases like this where brain gets wrong signals)
I think the answer is to use it only when really needed and get adequate/minimum rest later on....

Man, this gives me an idea, we might want to quanitfy effective/useful rest for each individual...coz I know 20-30% of my total sleeping hours are hardly beneficial...

Guess we are looking at a future where we take one pill to stay awake, another to sleep...dehumanizing? probably...necessary? probably...

3. Making it legal...yeah, bring it on...Everything that is in exisitence is in use...laws only go so far...

4. No one appreciated the humor in your post....guess peple took this topic seriously...Liked the Frost-ing in the end :P

ashes said...


Well, don't get so depressed, half of the dozen comments are mine, replies to comments.

First, thank you for appreciating the humor. Nobody actually paid heed even to Robert Frost; I know it is difficult to, given only small traces of humor are found in my posts.

Right, I feel I am lucky to be able to manage with lesser hours of sleep. And lucky to have almost compete utilization of my sleeping time. But I wonder how are 20-30% of your sleeping hours not beneficial?

Your arguments are in sync with mine in the post and in answers to comments above. Thanks dude, I got another supporter, another person who did not outrightly reject the possibility. :)

PDV (on IM) said...

This drug cant be everything you are expecting it to be. I mean how can you replace sleep with a drug? Sleep is regeneration and recuperation right ... so how can you use and rest something at the same time?

You're complicating the cycle...adding more fourier terms :-S. so if you're gonna add more rest function terms .. like superimpose them on normal use terms then youre complicating the function of the brain more.

And principle of conservation of energy will also apply. Like sleep is a period of less energy. So how can you create energy. Sirf food se nahin ho sakta because that obviously doesnt work. But you spend energy when youre awake. I'll say that it will make you less sleepy but also less awake.

I predict its gonna lead to more frequent nervous breakdowns. And breakdowns are fun so ... \:D/ i think it is a sure way of dying early and stupidly.

Kani (on IM) said...

Itna jaagne ka shauk hai kya tujhe? Main agar naturally jaag pau tab to koi fight nahi hai. Par koi drug ki sahayata nahi le sakta. :) Anabolic steroids ki tarah hai, tainted.

Anadi Misra said...

Hmm...probably beneficial was a poor choice of words...I meant inefficient sleeping/resting...the kind of resting techniques which don't restore your body much but take up a lot of time...I guess what I was trying to say was, we might ivestigate optimizing sleeping/resting techniques to maximize efficiency :D

PS: There is great merit in Dave's Energy argument, though I am not sure how the argument will hold if we change the way we define the system....Well, guess that could be one hell of a debate in itself. How is Dave, whats he upto ?

PPS: The reason (again, IMHO) for some outright rejections to your post is probably human nature of resisting new ideas (mental inertia)
I too was more resistant to the idea when I first read it, but I had time to mull over it :)

Anadi Misra said...

I just realized...Isn't optimizing resting/other body functions also one of the concepts behind Pranayama and Yoga...I remember doing something similar when I was doing it.

ashes said...


Yes, maybe the drug is not everything I expect to be. But it is light at the end of the tunnel.

Using and resting something at the same time is possible if you dont use the whole of it. So, you do not use the whole of your body and brain at the same time.

I guess you have a point with nervous breakdowns. The longer you stay up, the more you think, and the higher probability you have of getting things on your nerves. But this might be only considered as a side effect of the drug. Maybe a known issue we can publish with the release notes? ;)

Re dying early, I've responded to Rishabh above.

R said...

Yaar I love my sleep. I sleep a lot, at least 8 hours everyday. Achchha yaar, I need to know how to manage sleep in lesser hours. I cant do that and I feel bad all day.

But there is another reason: right now i dont get any satisfaction from anything out of work. So when i come back..i dont feel like doing anything and hence i go to bed. So may be sleep is correlated to your inclinations and interests. The more of them you have, the more time you want to spend with them and shall have less tendency to sleep.

ashes said...


Point taken. Anything forced and unnatural shall look tainted. But you also want to sleep less and work more, right?

ashes said...


I'll agree only to the second half of your logic: the more interests you have, the more time you want to spend with them and the less you want to sleep. However, I wake up longer if I am not satisfied with my day at work. Maybe because, in that case, my mind is not tired enough to accept defeat at the hands of sleep.

himanshu said...

yaar the drug should be a matrix-style thing where u're plugged to a machine and u get the 8hrs of required sleep in a matter of seconds...if i could get this sort of drug, i would be really me loads of time to do different things...i personally don't enjoy sleeping, i'm never able to sleep the right amount, i usually oversleep and feel groggy the next day or get less sleep and feel i'd love it if this sort of a drug came along

ashes said...


:) Your comment looks like an appeal to me as if it is in my hands to create a drug like that. But yes, I too would like to have sufficient sleep in a matter of seconds so that I can have loads of time to do different things.

Shruti said...

You are treating your body as a factory... jitni zyada machine chalegi...utna Profit hoga.

I can't compromise my sleep ... for any reason. U know ... what we can't do in reality ... but want to do.... we do in Dreams. There is a line ... ...from one of my fav. song "Khawabo mein hi keh sakta hoon, apna tumhe"

ashes said...


Well, I want my body to be a perpetual machine kind of thing, not exactly a factory. As in, I do not derive any profits out of it, but want to pursue all my interests and fulfill all my duties.

Re dreams, I like day-dreaming more than those confusing, complex, surreal dreams you have in your sleep. In fact, I want to have control over my dreams as well, and you cannot actually control your dreams in an unconscious state.

d diary said...

Just came across ur blog...I normally leave any comments on others' blogs...
Well... u write b'tfully.. Read some of ur blogs..
Words just seem to flow in ur blog like strokes of an expert artist on a b'tful painting..
Great work!!

उन्मुक्त said...

मेरे विचार में सोना तो जिन्दगी का सबसे बेहतरीन लम्हा है। इसके बिना सब सूना। सपनो में दुनिया ही कुछ अलग है वास्तविक जीवन तो...

Rashmi (on IM) said...

Yaar kya prob hain tumhe sone mein? Nothing in the world can replace sleep. I sleep for around 6.5 hours a day and thats more than sufficient. There are certain biological things that the body does when you sleep. So you cannot find alternative to that :)

Tell me what best use you want to make of this time..Day time is more than sufficient to do all you want unless you are over ambitious...

ashes said...

D Diary,

Thanks for reading my posts and the appreciation. I am glad you liked my writing. Please keep visiting, reading, and commenting.

Can I ask you how did you stumble across my blog?

ashes said...

उन्मुक्त जी,

मैं भी वही चाहता हूँ...कि सोना एक लम्हे के तुलनीय हो,,,,तब सोना जीवन का बेहतरीन लम्हा होगा...अभी तो सोना लम्हा नहीं, एक तिहाई ज़िंदगी के बराबर है, और वह बेहतरीन समय आप सो कर गुजार देते हैं...

मैं आपकी दूसरी बात से सहमत हूँ, सपनों की दुनिया ही कुछ अलग है वास्तविकता से...अकसर कहीं दूर दूर तक वास्तविकता से कोई नाता नहीं होता सपनों का...

ashes said...


Well, there is no one best use. You generally have a lot of tasks to do. If you are awake some extra time, you can keep working on whatever you work upon during the day. And I am not talking of professional tasks and macro tasks. I am talking of normal might not be able to catch up with all your friends because you don't have time. You might not be able to go out (or cook) your choice of food because you don't have the time. As often said for money, you could always use some extra time.

KT said...

knock knock .... I heard world is gng ga ga over some guy writing that he wants to utilize his sleep in something more productive....

well if u look at my life .... thr is not so much work that I can't afford sleep.... so this pill may be a boon for i-bankers. I wouldn't want to trade my sleep for some extra Rs. simply because some dreams are so good that you wake up nice and smiling something the pill may not live up to!!

true as u portray that when we say that someone fulfilled his dreams they are day-dreams only ... not sleep-dreams....

But there are so many good things associated with sleep...

1) wud thr be anything spl to boast of night-outs in our coll if thr is this pill

2) Ppl may not boast of them talking to their partners in bed and gng to sleep while talking. Leading to loss of certain nice aspects of romanticism.

3) You will be obliged to take off a little credit frm you for any success and have to attribute it to Pfizer or Ranbaxy .... I think thts a personal loss...

4) A time may come when not humans but the pills may be national treasure

5) Parents may miss out on teaching their children basic etiquettes like Good Night and Good Morning.

6) If sleep become obsolete, it will be cherished only when u read older poems and with them fading, we may appreciate literature less and less.

7) No Sleep no hope... often we go to sleep thinking of something better cropping up on its own. It will be pathetic to see that u are working now ... u pop a pill and phewwww... u are back to the code which u were not able to crack 10 mins back

8) No sleep u may lose some golden memories of some one sleeping in a funny posture, with a credulous smile, with mouth wide open and saliva coming out like a hose .... so many things

chalo I think list thodi lambi ho gayi .... think upon it....

ashes said...


Well, as others, you too mistook the pill for an epidemic that will drain off sleeps of every human living on the planet. And as I answered to somebody above, extra wakefulness will not mean extra money at all.

Hence, many of your arguments stand void against this. Still, I might try to address points raised by you.

1) Yes, people would still be able boast of night-outs without the pill, against those you would be dependent on pills for nightouts.

2) If you are into bed, you would like to sleep (Ok, maybe a couple of hours later), and hence you would not take the pill. That ways you can always be romantic :)

3) There are thousands of such personal losses in today's life. Everything is getting synthetic, or automated, or ready to use. You depend on more organizations than you can ever know for any success. I tried preparing a list and could jot down 17 names in a couple of minutes. Try doing that yourself, and you will know. Or, try giving as less credit to anyone else, and see if you can even go to the bathroom without doing that.

4) No comments. Argument for the sake of it.

5) If you believe this pill would break the day-night cycle, you are overestimating it by at least a million times. Good nights and good mornings would still be there. And you'll still use them at appropriate times instead of Hello and Ciao.

6) Really funny. Do you think contemporary literary pieces would actually begin with "Once upon a time there was a state called Sleep..."? Great imagination I must say.

7) The only point I agree with. The pill might get people on their nerves.

8) Ha ha. I'd say when you want to create such a golden memory, feed them some sleeping pills instead. :)

Like majority of your arguments above, this is based on the assumption that the pill would eradicate sleep off the face of planet earth like, according to a recent finding, mosquitoes did to dinosaurs. Come on dude, I think you gave it too much of a thought. It is just a pill, gives you the power to not sleep, it will work exactly the way sleeping pills work.

KT said...

that was just an extrapolation of what you mentioned.

Such a product could be widely desired by millions ....

On a larger scale, countries legalizing this drug may develop into faster-rising economies....

On the same lines, I thought what wud happen to the inhabitants of such countries/societies/economies. You don't want to sleep, others too might emulate you.

Amiya Shrivastava said...

Hey Ashes..

I am not an avid reader and also not an ardent writer but you see after your insistence and persistence to read this blog..I am tempted to post a comment..

Very first write well.
Second, you have a great fan following..and an ever extending one..

Regarding your penchant for keeping yourself awake..I must say that it is a great idea..this way if you choose to utilize this squeezed out time productively, then certainly you can do helluva good to this world.

But before administering the drug into your body just wait and watch and consider a fact that neither sleep is completely understood nor effects of the drug.

God forbid but should you choose to take it now, you will have to repent later on.

..just a few words of caution!!

Wait and watch


ashes said...


Dude. You write so well...why don't you start writing a blog?

Yeah I know we can do a lot of good to this world using this drug. But don't worry, as I said in the post too, it is not gonna hit the markets very soon, and there would be numerous studies in laboratories throughout the world by then.

Chaitanya said...

Let me know when the drug hits India. I too don't want to waste time on sleeping.

ashes said...


Sure thing fella.

Kapil Saxena said...


studies shows that if human being works > 5 hrs (that’s why Europeans work only 5-6 hrs), person is not productive. The so called “sleep-less pill”, is in sharp contrast to this study. Today when people work 8-10 hrs, we have unemployment. What will be unemployment levels with this “sleep-less” pill ?

ashes said...


Well, the studies showing that human beings are not productive if they work more than 5-6 hours are based on the knowledge that a normal human is awake only 16 hours a day. Now if 16 is raised to 24, 6 might get proportionately increased to 9.

The unemployment problem might get increased if we believe that the cause of unemployment is employment of other people, which is definitely not the case. But unemployment cannot be addressed, not even partially, if we work for 5 hours instead of 8.

Shilpee said...

Hey Ashes,
I must say this is one really interesting thought of yours..while reading the blog I felt apprehensive about the consequences of this drug and started counting positive and negative aspects of it, most of which are already mentioned by your other fans..Enjoyed reading the comments more than the blog and your logical replies in return. socha mein bhi aandolan mein shamil ho jaun ;) So here are my views...I feel although there might be some negatives of this anti sleeping drug from medical/theoretical aspects but looking at today's life, practical aspects of the drug could outweigh negatives. But if such kind of drug is launched in market, i wouldn't be so keen towards it since i love sleeping :)

The ratio-proportion mathematics between number of sleeping and waking hours in the comments above tempted me to arrive at another way of calculation. For example

studies showing that human beings are not productive if they work more than 5-6 hours are based on the knowledge that a normal human is awake only 16 hours a day would result in following axiom

(I) 8 hours of sleep is required in order to be awake for 16 hours

Since total number of hours available is fixed at 24, increasing the number of waking hours results in decreasing the resultant working hours as Axiom can't be denied :) he he

ashes said...


Thanks for putting forth your views and supporting me. :) Yes, very rightly put, the practical aspects of this drug could outweigh the negatives.

I didn't quite get the logic in your axiom, but appreciate the gesture. :) You are trying to make waking and working hours mutually exclusive, are you?

Shilpee said...

Kind of :)

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