Can we sleep less?

The quest to build better people.
March 7 2003 5:08 PM

Wake Up, Little Susie

Can we sleep less?

(Continued from Page 2)

9 a.m.-7 p.m.: I work like a fiend again. These have been the two most productive days I've had in years. Idea for new Provigil ad slogan: "Bosses' Little Helper."


1 a.m.: Again I'm alert through the late evening—so alert that I infuriate my wife by chattering at her long past her bedtime. This time, when I do conk out, I sleep deeply.

Day 3, Wednesday
7 a.m.: My one-man clinical trial starts to fall apart. Everyone says modafinil is not addictive, but I wake up worried about how long my supply will last. I count the pills and realize I have only five and a half left. That's just an 11-day supply. I remember that I offered a sample to a friend yesterday. I am annoyed—one day less for me. I start to cut up the remaining pills, wondering if I can divide them into thirds instead of halves.

I realize that maybe I can find a different supplier. I log onto the Internet to see if I can get modafinil on the sly. I find it cheap at the Discount Mexican Pharmacy. I feel delighted and relieved. Then I feel terrified that I am delighted and relieved. "Discount Mexican Pharmacy"?!

7:30 a.m.: I end my experiment after two days. I am acting like a lunatic. I stash the remaining pills in a distant corner of the medicine cabinet. I calm myself with the reminder that I have 11 more great days to look forward to.

So is modafinil a drug for future superpeople? Maybe. There are good reasons for doubt, though. The drug is approved only for treating narcolepsy, and doctors are not going to prescribe it like aspirin anytime soon. Though patients don't seem to get addicted to modafinil or to build a tolerance, according to Walsleben, the drug has been in use for only 10 years, and no one knows for certain that it's safe over the long term. (Cephalon and other drug companies, incidentally, are working on even more powerful wakefulness drugs, but none is on the market yet.)

I loved taking modafinil for two days. I worked supernaturally hard and well. But I'd be afraid to make it a habit. I'll use it again for a special occasion—when I am late for a deadline, perhaps. In the meantime, I'll just yawn my way through the midafternoon.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.