Sleep - Salvador Dali
Millions of years of evolution have optimized, in the human brain, the balance between sleep induced rest and vigil and between acquiring necessary and unnecessary information. Studies conducted by David Dinges and military scientists have proven that the human performance is deteriorated when we sleep for less than eight hours a day. Throwing this system out of balance can profoundly change our hormonal system and fill our head with useless information, bringing unpredictable consequences to the delicate neurological balance.
The current craze in terms of psychoactive drugs is the Modafinil (Concerta (Brasil); Provigil (U.S.A., UK, Itália, Bélgica); Vigil (Alemanha); Modalert, Provake, Modapro (India); Modiodal (Portugal, França, Mexico, Turquia, Grécia, Suécia); Modavigil (Austrália); Alertec (Canada); Vigicer (Argentina); Resoty, Mentix (Chile)), a stimulant-like drug that, apparently lacks the side-effects of amphetamine-like stimulants, acting mostly on the hypothalamus. The Modafinil is to sleep like contraceptives are to sex: it separates the act from its biological consequences.
Originally developed and commercialized in France by Lafon since 1994, it was approved by th FDA in 1998 and sold exclusively since 2001 by Cephalon and was and is primarily to treat narcolepsy. It allows you to rest only four hours a night and spend 24 to 72 hours without sleep or sleepiness, without altering, during its acting period, the ability to focus and discern, even improving your sense of humour and social skills. Its dopamine-releasing action is relatively weak and dosage-dependent, so the possibility of a euphoric response is apparently small.
Its therapeutic action quickly exceeded the boundaries of narcolepsy and, today, Modafinil is increasingly used in the treatment of such diverse pathologies as Alzheimer's disease, fatigue, depression, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, methanphetamine and cocaine addiction, Parkinson's disease, obstructive sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis, jet-lag, post-anaesthesia drowsiness and primary biliary cirrhosis weariness. Since its launch thirteen years ago, Modafinil has become increasingly popular and worldwide sales reached 575 million USD in 2005.
The use of Modafinil for military purposes has increased significantly as an alternative to Methamphetamines, with various governments admiting its use in war zones as well as its non-therapeutic, recreational use among teenagers, young adults, workaholics and geeks looking to reach the nirvana of fun and non-stop work. As there aren't any reliable studies, yet, about the extension and consequences of the use of this drug outside of its therapeutic context, by the general public and by young people in particular, no one really knows what could happen, in the long run, to the life, creativity and habits of a society that doesn't sleep...