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What would happen if we did not need to sleep anymore?

08-04-2015

What would happen if  we did not need to sleep anymore?

By now you will know that you spend around a third of your life asleep, if you have read any of our blog posts you will be informed of this fact, even if you hadn’t already gleaned it for yourself at some point! Obviously for us this is a huge fact, our business is sleep and we believe that people should have the very best sleep ever every single night.

But sleep is not exactly the most productive or exciting thing you could be doing with a third of your life and there are a number of scientists who are looking into ways of eradicating sleep forever. Yes, there are people busy researching methods so humans might never have to sleep again. For example, a group of researchers who were working on the development of drugs that would help prevent sleepiness formulated a nasal spray that had the hormone orexin-A. This hormone actually reversed the consequences of sleep deprivation in the trial monkeys, though admittedly it was far from being the cure for sleep.

Now naturally this would not be great for our business but we are interested in it, at least in theory! So we thought we would dig into this subject to see what the deal is and whether we may need to start changing our business focus sooner rather than later. As it turns out, while there are people studying this, we think it is safe to say that we will still be in the mattress business for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean we cannot think about what a world of sleeplessness might be like. Let’s explore this hypothetical world a bit more. 

A more productive world

As we said, sleep is not exactly the most productive state to spend a third of your life in, one of the most obvious changes to human society would be the drastic increase in productivity. Certainly not everyone would suddenly decide to work for 16 rather than eight hours, but there are those driven people (like all the researchers we talk about in our blog pieces) who would love more time each day to keep working. Think of how fast science would progress if all of those people were able to essentially double their daily productivity? Things that used to take ten years to develop would only take five!!

Now before you imagine suddenly earning twice as much money each year, there may be an issue with this. This would only work if not that many people decided to work the double shift available. If most of your fellow citizens all had the same idea then the reality is that most of the prices would rise and you would end up paying about double for the same things. Sadly economics is against you so you would want to ensure that most other people were not working 16 hours a day. In fact, one of the major impacts of no sleep would be economic, it would take economies a number of years to deal with the massive changes this would create.

This could well be the case though, as it is unlikely that most people would want to spend 16 hours a day working. Just think about how long a day at work that is! The only way you would be able to do it is if you were incredibly driven and your work was fascinating. Otherwise it just wouldn’t be worth it.

Another point made by experts is that humans need downtime, so even if we weren’t sleeping at all we would need some time relaxing. The brain works best when this happens, which is why the best ideas come to you in the shower or when you are lying in bed. Linda Sapadin, a psychologist explains that “We're not machines,” so we chances are we won’t work 16 hour days. People who are obsessive workers might do more at first, but “eventually [the work] would take its toll, because we need to refresh ourselves.”

More leisure time

So yes it would appear that while for some there would be a drastic increase in work hours for many of us the chances are that we would end up having an increase in leisure time. Now this is more like it! If we had an extra eight hours we could spend more time doing the things that we love, whether that is playing with the kids or getting into that hobby that you have wanted to do for so long but never had the time.

There may even be a huge increase in different new hobbies. With all that extra time people may get into some extra obsessions that we have never had the chance to do. There are already a few people who have shown what an obsession can result in, from those people who spend ten years building replicas of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks to the guy who spent 30 years making maps for his fictional world.

More flexibility

Now with a whole 24 hours in the day we can live a more flexible life, you can choose to do your work during the night so you can have the whole sunny day, you can choose to do your week’s work from Monday through to Wednesday and then have the rest of the week off. There are lots of different ways you could live if you didn’t need to sleep.

Conclusion

As for us, we are both excited and somewhat nervous by the prospect, it would be a different world if we didn’t sleep and while there are a lot of positives, sleep isn’t all bad. It is a time for dreams and a time for the body and brain to rest, so until something else is able to give us the same soothing and creative space then we say “let’s keep sleeping”.


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