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  • December 2007
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Sleepless Weekends

In college I had professor who was teaching a class on brain biology (for psych students) and he taught a method for sleeping less. It was rather simple, you start out sleeping normally with no alarms (an achievable task for some college students who get lucky in the class schedule queue). Once you have a baseline for the amount of sleep you need you simply shave off an half hour every week. You do this until you get down into the 3-4 hour range (about when you’re losing your sanity) and then you simply start sleeping normally again. After doing this the typical person needs 3-4 less hours of sleep per night (about 5-6 hours) and the gains were basically permanent.

This long and onerous process may become obsolete if this new chemcial works out:

A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery’s first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

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.”

The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired.

The study, published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkeys’ cognitive abilities but made their brains look “awake” in PET scans.

I wonder how safe something like this could be for long term use. Personally, I would love to gain more hours in the day.

There are some jokes about World of Warcraft here too.


One Response

  1. ever seen that horrible James Bond with Halle Berry? There’s a dude in that movie who doesn’t sleep. He was an evil genius. Not sleeping at all would turn us all into evil geniuses…or make us the most enduring WOW players in the guild.

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