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  1.  (403.1) Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep
    In what sounds like a dream for millions of tired coffee drinkers, Darpa-funded scientists might have found a drug that will eliminate sleepiness.

    The treatment is "a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign," said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a co-author of the paper. "It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess."

    Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is "specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness" without other impacts on the brain.

    Enter the age of the truly 24-hour party people.
    • CommentTimeDec 28th 2007
    There are already drugs that do this, but this would probably be the first legalized one.
  2.  (403.3)
    Oh... now that is my kind of stuff, especially if they can give me something that replaces sleep completely. Being awake constantly would be fantastic.
  3.  (403.4)

    I've never found a non-legal drug that eliminates sleepiness without adding a certain edginess... I've never taken anything that just gives you 'awake and lucid' in a normal way.
    • CommentAuthorMr. Pants
    • CommentTimeDec 28th 2007
    You can already do the same thing with Rhodiola Rosea and Siberian Ginseng.

    • CommentAuthorsacredchao
    • CommentTimeDec 28th 2007
    This sounds fantastic. I dislike sleep as it seems a waste of time to me, so I would be up to try it.
  4.  (403.7)
    never noticed Ginseng really increasing my wakefullness, but than again, I can do a 6-shot mocha and go to bed...
    I haven't heard of Rhodiola Rosea. Sounds like a cellphone brand or something.
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007
    Wow, like something from one of Iain M Banks' Culture novels. But without the drug glands.
    Sounds useful, but I like my sleep too much to want to get rid of it completely. Then again, I get my fair share of sleepless nights (not in the good way) and could do with a decent pick me up every now and again. I'd be interested to know what kind of (if any)psychological changes a person would undergo if they didn't have to sleep.
  5.  (403.9)

    Yeah, the problem is, while this drug counters the effects of lack of sleep, at least in the short term, how does it deal with long-term effects AND how does it counter the loss of other benefits of sleep? There are some linked articles at the bottom that talk about some of these other aspects. Basically, this may just turn out to be a substitute for coffee, not for sleeping.
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007
    Isn't REM sleep partially responsible for not going insane? I'm pretty sure there are some profound psychological disorders linked to sleeplessness. Maybe we'll have thousands of completely mad businessmen running around speaking in fragments after spending a couple weeks working overtime way too often. That could be fun.
  6.  (403.11)

    There are a number of things that sleep does for us. Not going insane is a very general one :-)! I was thinking about the fact that a number of important cognitive functions are reset by sleep. For example, our ability to retain and process memories is affected by sleep, and without the proper # of cycles your brain can over time stop working effectively, drugs or no. Healing is facilitated by sleep, and regulation of some bodily functions may be affected by sleep as well.

    My understanding is that a lot of this is still tentative; researchers are still perplexed by sleep. But messing with sleep definitely has a number of deleterious effects on the body and mind. So, I take the news of any sleep-elimination drug with a block of salt, although it is an intriguing idea.
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007

    U.S. soldiers are staying awake for days and nights on end in Iraq, and many are almost certainly benefiting from military research into pills that let them work for 40 hours straight, without feeling "wired" and without crashing afterward.

    Soldiers in past wars have taken stimulants when they can't afford to fall asleep, but these have all had side effects: poor judgment, jumpiness and the need for extra sleep as soon as the soldier stops popping them.

    But the new stay-awake pills appear to have no side effects, at least in the short term.

    U.S. military studies found that soldiers can stay awake and function alertly for 40 hours, get eight hours of sleep, and then stay awake for 40 more, all without the impaired judgment of old-fashioned uppers.

    Personally, I fucking LOVE sleep. I would sleep 15 hours a day if I could still pay my bills. If you had my dreams you wouldn't want to wake up either.
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007

    Personally, I fucking LOVE sleep. I would sleep 15 hours a day if I could still pay my bills. If you had my dreams you wouldn't want to wake up either.

    Damn straight. I've managed to (not deliberatley) get into a state where the last 2-3 hours of my sleep cycle are some of the most pleasurable, and therefore sanity preserving, hours of what can be an otherwise nasty working day. There'd have to be some seriously good arguments for giving up my 'semi lucid dreamworld/ best surrealist piece of art I can ever create independantly' state to make me even consider giving up my 8 or so hours a night.

    @ Erudite_Ogre

    Agreed, although I'm not going to claim to have even the slightest understanding of the science of sleep. But I think Shakespeare was definately on to something when he wrote that bit in Macbeth where Macbeth is freaking out because he'd lost his ability to sleep. For whatever scientific reason, humans need to sleep, and this drug won't change that.
  7.  (403.14)
    There is a disease related to spongiform encephalitis where you lose the ability to sleep, go nuts, and die a painful and horribly fucked up death. This drug might make the death throes perhaps a little easier to bear.
    • CommentTimeDec 29th 2007
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I don't think this will mean you won't ever have to sleep just that you can go longer without it. They give methamphetamine to airforce pilots because they dont want them to fall alsleep in a billion dollar plane. My guess is they have synthesized the brain chemical that gets depleted when you don't sleep. They did the same thing for HGH human growth hormone.
    These are some exciting times. I remember reading a article in OMNI about designer drugs but nothing really good has come up yet besides ecstasy. I was hoping for something like Spider has.
    There is still nothing better than a quality opiate. The synthetic opiates are good but it is like comparing a spirit with a fine wine. It has the same effect but a lot of subtleties are lost.
  8.  (403.16)
    I'm the kind of guy who hates going to sleep and hates waking up. As you can imagine, I'm a complete disaster in keeping schedules. There's no "sleep at midnight" with me. Sometimes I'll stay awake all night and sleep all day, sometimes vice-versa.

    That drug sounds too magical. Keeps you awake without edginess, and you don't pass out as soon as the effect is gone? There's a hidden side effect there, I suspect.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2007
    There's already a drug which can allow people to stay awake several days straight with minimal side-effects: Provigil.

    Some people have negative reactions to Provigil but others seem to function fine with it. Orexin A is probably similar.
    • CommentAuthorPooka
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2007
    There's a psychology professor at Morehead State University who was working on a caffiene injection. She's a wee bit wacky...I don't know too many people who wouldn't rather drink mass amounts of yummy coffee, than get a shot everyday to wire yourself up.
    I think she's gotten to the point though, that she'd have to drink espressoes constantly to stay alert. She also is in love with her experiment rats...she sleeps in the animal housing room with them, then lovingly cuts off the tops of their skulls to see how the caffiene injections are affecting them...

    I understand wanting more energy to get things done..but it can't possibly be healthy to ward off sleep for days at a time....people trying to overcome the natural healthy rythm of life is what's fucking us up alltogether...
  9.  (403.19)
    Has anyone ever read 'Sleep' in 'The Elephant Vanishes'? I don't think I *want* to stay awake after that.
    Seriously though, if this doesn't string you out like caffeine or other stimulants it could be a godsend for deadlines and the like.
    • CommentAuthoracacia
    • CommentTimeDec 30th 2007
    My expert opinion based on a few minutes skimming through Google:

    Apparently Siegel's issue with modafinil is that it is imprecise (we don't know how exactly it works, just that it's synergistic and involves multiple chemicals) yet widely popular, and affects everyone (sleepy or alert) generally, whereas his research into narcolepsy involving dogs/mice or whatnot led him to focus on hypocretins and isolate treatment with orexin A to only affect the sleepy. It all appears very limited and theoretical at the moment, in regards to cause/correlation interpretations in a very specific context. Also, in general it seems there's some interesting things about oral use and interactions with other drugs in the "not a stimulant" and "not an opiate" categories (apparently modafinil and methadone don't go well together, something about hepatic and/or intestinal enzymes), so the intranasal orexin A could be interesting there as well.

    When we've got athletes 'busted' for steroids and then talking about these complicated supplements they took that they allegedly didn't realize were steroids and have complex mechanisms of action, and with savvy "illicit" users of many variations around the world, I do wonder how continuing to develop these fuzzy types of drugs/precursors and such will change policies and use/abuse in the future. Then there's the torture/weapons systems, waterboarding and pain rayguns and weep-into-your-beer grenades or whatever.