A drug that claims to make sleeping optional, with no obvious ill effects, has many speculating about what a sleepless world would be like.
People on Modafinil can sleep just two hours a night and feel completely rested, with no headaches or "sleep debt" feeling. There's no withdrawal or post-dopamine crash, and little risk for addiction.
The drug has actually been around for quite some time, as it was launched as a narcolepsy treatment in the UK in 1998.
Students who took the drug as a way to stay up and study reported that they were more alert. They also expressed interest in using it during time off of school, as a way to stay up later and have more fun. Night shift workers also reported better alertness.
Many economists have speculated about what it would do to the work world if everyone got by on only two hours of sleep.
Oxford doctoral student Jon M. said, "Workers would probably prefer to allocate the bulk of that extra time to leisure but I doubt employers will let that happen."
He said, in a "generous breakdown," the company would get at least three of the five extra hours previously devoted to sleep. That would mean workers would get paid more and employers would get more work. "Overall the transition to a sleepless world seems beneficial to humanity."
Others have argued differently. Garrett Jones at the Library of Economics and Liberty said that the "rise in supply pushes down the price of work, so wages will fall."
Jones said, however, that this would only be short term. Increase in productivity would increase demand for capital which would eventually push wages back up.
But in reality, no one can really say what the world would be like.
Matthew Yglesias at Slate said "the world is a great big place full of enormous diversity," and certain professions will likely expect "18 hours a day."