Millions of Americans down mug after mug of coffee to stay alert and get through the day with perhaps a bit of an edge. Some go so far as to pop caffeine pills to pull all-nighters while studying for exams or finishing a top-priority report. Others awaken bleary-eyed at 4 a.m. to get their days started, while the rest of us typically just wish we had more hours in a day.
But if there were a pill you could take that would keep you wide-awake for 40 hours at a time — with no side effects, no risk of addiction, and no crash afterward — would you take it?
This tempting question is now a reality as mind-altering drugs like modafinil are already on the market. Modafinil, a drug originally developed to treat narcolepsy, is being prescribed off-label to a host of people who need to stay awake, including those with other sleeping disorders, depression and ADHD, people in the military and even those with jet lag.