Sleep - Who Needs It?

Sleep – Who Needs It?

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Sleep – Who Needs It?

Researchers (connected to the US military, of course) are testing whether we really need as much sleep as we currently are accustomed to. They’re testing technologies to make our sleeptime more efficient. 

Having 50% more “conscious lifetime” might sound like an appealing proposition to anyone with a hectic schedule. This could be achieved not necessarily by living longer, but by cutting down on the biggest time-waster of all: Sleep. Living life at 150% is an interesting proposal, but as Jessa Gamble debates in her essay at Aeon Magazine, “are we brave enough to embrace it?”

Would you embrace it?


  1. Check out dymaxion sleep cycles.

  2. I would rather slow down the pace of our lives.

  3. I would love it if I never had to sleep.

  4. I would be happy with two more hours per day of time. So, make it so I can get by on six instead of eight and that would be nice.

    Alas, I’d probably turn around and lose that time to google plus and not the bike ride and productive stuff I think I would do with the time.

  5. I don’t need more time in my day–I’ve got plenty of time and if I don’t, it’s a good indication that I need to start declining things.

    What I WOULD like, however, is a couple more hours of time when my brain is functional enough to be really productive.

    After 11 pm, I’m rarely awake enough to start a new project, but I’m hardly ever tired enough to go to sleep. So I end up with 2-3 hours of wasted time. 

    If I could figure out a way to be awake during that time….

  6. It’s funny. For me, I’ve a feeling that it’d be like adding a lane to a crowded freeway of traffic. At first, it’d be great. But eventually, I’d just pack more stuff in and feel the pressure to add more. 

  7. Agree. After a few months or a year, I bet that potentially productive time would be lost as it became the new normal.

  8. But. I Like to sleep!

  9. Shaker Cherukuri For me, it’s about 6 hours at night and a 20-30 afternoon nap. Works pretty well for me.

  10. Soon we all get our regeneration alcoves?

  11. I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead. Sam Elliot

  12. As someone who for the better part of 8 months did the Überman/Dynmaxion sleep schedule, I can say that it works.

    You might need 2-3 months to voax your sleep in to it. Im a Non24 freerunner so it was not as weird for me and I fell in to it quite easily though I was groggy for the first month and a half.

    The main problem is your social life gets shattered and travel become cumbersome to say the least.

    Basicly don’t plan on doing anything that requires more than two hours of work that can not be aborted for a nap.

    Yes I did get things done, but the Pareto principle with triage and GTD is just as effective.

  13. Wow, no one in this thread appears to have studied the importance of dreaming.  (I have a Master’s in Depth Psychology and to cut to the chase all I can say is:  don’t give up sleep if you’re planning on staying sane!)  ;’)  

  14. I dreamt just fine on the sleep schedule.

    Weirdly enough my dreams topk on an episodic nature like a TV series.

    Quite fun.

  15. Gideon Rosenblatt You have good instincts ….IMHO your life’s battery can be recharged only through sleep 

  16. The question is will you have a choice, if your fellow classmates, work colleagues, or competitors are sleeping less?  But nothing’s more competitive than evolution, and the fact that nearly all mammals sleep is good evidence that in reasonable amounts it provides an advantage.

  17. Gideon Rosenblatt  I’m not sure that I could embrace this.   I feel like we see how diet and exercise shortcuts have actually increased the obesity rates.  I can only imagine what would happen when you start changing the biology our body is naturally designed to do when we sleep.  

    I guess I’m old fashioned and work to create healthy habits that will last a lifetime.  I can only imagine parents that have children that are not sleeping trying to short cut and do a quick fix and the impact it would have on their academic success over all health.  

  18. Quite interesting to be able to reduce our sleep cycle to 4 hours, yet still get the full rest of 8 hours. It would be great if we can use the time more productively, but I highly doubt it. What will you be doing at 2am in the morning? In the Internet or watching TV?

    Irene Gouge you brought up a good point. With 4 more hours that you are awake, that means you will be eating another meal and snack. If you are not working out daily to compensate the increase in calories/fat/sugar, we will have close to 100% obese society.

  19. Wow, Shaker Cherukuri, that’s what you’re getting now? Regularly? How do you function? 

    And picking up on your point, Richard Sprague, I wonder if we might see certain segments of society adopt this first. Since DARPA is funding this, what if this were adopted by the services? What about certain highly competitive industries, such as investment banking and consulting? I could imagine something like this creeping in for the younger staffers. It wouldn’t even require a mandates, just a look the other way response from management. 

    All assuming it actually works, to your points Meg Tufano and Irene Gouge. I too am skeptical of the longer-term fallout for body hacks like this. 

  20. chris vighagen – I’ve never heard of the Überman/Dynmaxion sleep schedule. What were you doing it for? 


    I was bored, out of work during the -08 to -10 world crash and had just found out that I have 

    So it seemed like a perfect time to experiment. When I get bored I do stuff like that.

    Like right now I’m researching and planning to build a singing teslacoil just for the heck of it.

    I get bored easily and sports bore me even more.

  22. Meg Tufano I agree, dreaming is just as important as sleep over the long haul. Thanks for bringing that up.

  23. I love technology and all the great things it can do for us, but I would think Rose Le another meal, working longer will fatigue the body, more light from computers, phones, games, whatever- will cause more stimulation to the brain and cause wreak more havoc on our body.   

    I could see this being used for certain populations, but again, in our world, we are not always the best in doing things in moderation and we seem to have a population of extremist that just look for the quick fix.   

  24. And why would I trust anything that affects my brain which was developed by the military? Their mental health track record is less than stellar.

  25. Seriously. That whole internet thing was a real flop B-)

  26. Sakari Maaranen A very sensible statement. The quality of one’s life… can only be measured when all the devices are disabled (sigh).

  27. Joe Scuderi well said, though tools can be useful. What matters is still the quality of connections between people. Some prefer a deeper abstract connection via literature and in-depth conversations. Many rather focus on sharing more immediate experiences. We can use various devices and premises to facilitate these exchanges, but in the end what matters is the quality of the experience between people.

  28. Transcranial direct-current stimulation, sounds great for those who need it for medical reasons. I prefer to get the amount of sleep required and reduce the workload of my day so I can live a happy and balanced life. Why add more stress to the day, but maybe this would work, but not for me.


    I have a different approach, rather than introducing electricity into a focused area of the brain, use Binaural beats.

  29. Sakari Maaranen This Plus, and the machine it runs on, is a tool, and I suppose it’s functioning as designed.  There is of course the quality of silence, since you mention Zen… With enough good will, and the willingness to share, a forum such as this may be an enabler. But I have deep forebodings about the topic this article covers.

  30. Remember it is the military and there are situations where the projected life expectancy is less than a few minutes for a soldier. 

    Military is a lot of “Min-Max” optimization. 

    Gamers know what I mean. 

  31. chris vighagen Can’t argue with you there, Chris. What I mean when I use the word “foreboding” is this, it seems that plenty of “solutions” which start out as military make their way sooner or later into the civilian sphere. Matter of fact, I think the military has the rep of being a sort of innovator in this “cutting edge” sort of stuff, since they have more or less unlimited funds to toss at problems which might threaten “national security.” Sometimes it’s all good. Sometimes not. I’m particularly averse, though, to innovations in the realm of brain behavior or psychological conditioning… invent your own term for it. I have the feeling that errors in judgment, in this realm of activity, have potential for repercussions which could get nasty. I’m reminded of that scene in Men In Black 1, when Will and Tommy Lee pick up the tabloids in order to get the real news. I feel like I could scroll through the Sci-fi category on Netflix and pick out titles which might correspond to this type of article.

  32. Anything that gets huge funding for research becomes the innovator. It doesn’t have to be the military, but currently they surely do get the most funding. Imagine most of that funding going to sustainability and cleantech research…

  33. Jake Tolbert ;’)

  34. I might make the perfect test subject! 🙂 

  35. Meg Tufano Meg, I’m so happy someone finally “mentioned” the importance of dreaming! How can we as a culture be so overwhelmingly biased in favor of everyday working consciousness? The more I think about this thread, the more I’m frightened by the “daylight” bias revealed by the comments, and not by the neo-scientific military application which the article itself discusses. Toss out the Moon as though it were an old cookie (the kind you bake, that is 🙂 ). Thanks again!

  36. Sleeping is healing time for the body. We definitely need sleep. But yes it could be made efficient by increasing the heal activity and reducing the total amount of sleep required.

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