Scientist might be closing in on a drug that eliminates the need for sleep and has no side effects.
The smart money says this won't work in humans. That's the usual pattern for stories of potential medical breakthroughs. But what if it does? And what if the drug is inexpensive and easy to get?
There are a lot of obvious applications. People would use it to work or party longer, and to increase alertness whenever needed. That's all great, and somewhat predictable, but I think the changes would go far beyond that, in ways we can't predict.
For example, what if eliminating tiredness made people less cranky? Usually when someone picks a fight, it's because they are tired. I would guess 80 percent of all stupid little disagreements are sleep related. Would a well-rested world be a kinder and gentler one?
Or would the possibility of working twenty hours a day become a necessity, as wages plummet with the instant doubling of labor supply?
Suppose the sleep drug becomes illegal in the United States without a prescription (likely), and legal in a competing country (also likely). The countries that use it will become economic powerhouses while effectively enslaving their workers around the clock.
Governments would be in the bizarre situation of banning a drug that did nothing but make users more clear headed and rational, with no physical side effects. But if the drug is not banned, it could be the biggest impact on human life since our ancestors learned to use tools.
Do you think a sleep drug would be a good thing or a bad thing?