You are viewing the content for Thursday 16 February 2006

Drugs could allow us survive on two hours’ sleep

By Ben Mitchell
A NEW class of drugs enabling people to cope with the pressures of a 24-hour society by allowing us to survive on only two hours sleep a day are being developed, scientists said yesterday.

The New Scientist magazine reports that the new ‘lifestyle’ pills promise to deliver sleep that is deeper and more refreshing than the real thing, even leading to the abolishment of sleep for several days at a stretch.

There will also be pills that deliver what feels like eight hours of sleep in half that time.

Russell Foster, a circadian biologist at Imperial College London, said: "The more we understand about the body’s 24-hour clock, the more we will be able to override it.

"In 10 to 20 years we’ll be able to pharmacologically turn sleep off. Mimicking sleep will take longer, but I can see it happening."

However, not everyone is impressed at the idea of a world where people can be active 22 hours of the day.

Neil Stanley, head of sleep research at the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit at the University of Surrey, said: "I think that would be the most hideous thing to happen to society."

Scientists are hoping to build on the success of the drug Modafinil, a stimulant launched seven years ago which allows people to wake up refreshed after four hours of sleep.

Unlike caffeine or amphetamines, it appears not to leave you with the jitters, euphoria and eventual crash of unaided sleeplessness and does not require a ‘sleep debt’ to be repaid.

Since it was launched in 1998, sales have climbed from $25 million (€21m) in 1999 to $575m (€484m) in 2005.

Also under development is the drug CX717 which Cortex Pharmaceuticals of Irvine, California, says appears to help people maintain normal alertness despite extended sleep deprivation.

Tests on 11 rhesus monkeys showed they were doing better after 36 hours of continual wakefulness than undrugged monkeys after normal sleep.

The military is thought to be one of the greatest markets for this new generation of drugs where soldiers on special ops sometimes have to be awake and alert for up to 72 hours.

 

Drugs could allow us survive on two hours’ sleep

By Ben Mitchell
A NEW class of drugs enabling people to cope with the pressures of a 24-hour society by allowing us to survive on only two hours sleep a day are being developed, scientists said yesterday.

The New Scientist magazine reports that the new ‘lifestyle’ pills promise to deliver sleep that is deeper and more refreshing than the real thing, even leading to the abolishment of sleep for several days at a stretch.

There will also be pills that deliver what feels like eight hours of sleep in half that time.

Russell Foster, a circadian biologist at Imperial College London, said: "The more we understand about the body’s 24-hour clock, the more we will be able to override it.

"In 10 to 20 years we’ll be able to pharmacologically turn sleep off. Mimicking sleep will take longer, but I can see it happening."

However, not everyone is impressed at the idea of a world where people can be active 22 hours of the day.

Neil Stanley, head of sleep research at the Human Psychopharmacology Research Unit at the University of Surrey, said: "I think that would be the most hideous thing to happen to society."

Scientists are hoping to build on the success of the drug Modafinil, a stimulant launched seven years ago which allows people to wake up refreshed after four hours of sleep.

Unlike caffeine or amphetamines, it appears not to leave you with the jitters, euphoria and eventual crash of unaided sleeplessness and does not require a ‘sleep debt’ to be repaid.

Since it was launched in 1998, sales have climbed from $25 million (€21m) in 1999 to $575m (€484m) in 2005.

Also under development is the drug CX717 which Cortex Pharmaceuticals of Irvine, California, says appears to help people maintain normal alertness despite extended sleep deprivation.

Tests on 11 rhesus monkeys showed they were doing better after 36 hours of continual wakefulness than undrugged monkeys after normal sleep.

The military is thought to be one of the greatest markets for this new generation of drugs where soldiers on special ops sometimes have to be awake and alert for up to 72 hours.