The Red Pill

If there was a pill that would cause you to never sleep again, would you take it?

This pill wouldn’t cause insomnia in the traditional sense, instead removing the very need for sleep. Before you answer one way or the other, let us ponder a life without sleep.

First of all, your life without a compulsion to sleep could be much more productive. With twenty-four waking hours to spend every day, you could finally take those guitar lessons, finish that degree and learn Japanese. It’s often said that there aren’t enough hours in the day, and now there’s more.

But before you get too carried away with imagining living two lifetimes in one, lets think about some of the potential baggage that could come with a sleep-free lifestyle.

One problem you might encounter is a lack of appreciation for time. As with immortality, the idea of more time is attractive at first, but can render existence meaningless. Without scarcity of time, one could lose appreciation for time and grow to loathe it’s passage. The scarcity of out time makes it precious.

Another issue could be the lack of sleep blurring the separation between days. Without a definitive end to each day, our biological clock would likely be going cuckoo. This leads to our third and final potential threat.

A sleepless existence might leave a residual longing for the undulation between activity and inactivity. Because we’re no longer physically required to wind down and take a break from our tasks, we may question the purpose of our continual labor.

Now what if the entire world ate this pill? This is where a powerful imagination can run wild.

First and most importantly, a world without sleep would have no rush hour because no one is waking up. Work can begin and end at any time because there is no beginning or end to our days.

We would work more, too. We already spend a great deal of time working or doing some work-like task, such as schooling or caring for loved ones, but now we will likely be expected to do something productive with the extra hours. Fortunately, businesses will have no reason to close at night, so there will be plenty of opportunities to schedule in a new full-time position.

Another major change would be our diet. The three meal per day schedule is out the window, since our bodies would be active around the clock. This would result in an increased demand for nourishment and thus additional meals. But what do we call the new meal times?  Dusk dinner? Night breakfast? Dark lunch?

Night will be a more active time for humans, so we will need more light. Because of the increased demand for electricity, we will likely need to improve our infrastructure and consume more coal, natural gas and other resources. The increased use of artificial light during the night will also produce massive amounts of light pollution, so we will need to pay people to clean it up every morning.