The Defense Department is investing heavily in the development of a new drug for troops that can replace sleep. Investigators are trying to see if it will keep soldiers awake and on duty, in Iraq for example, for 80 out of 88 hours: two 40-hour shifts separated by eight hours of sleep.
Could it solve the recruitment problems for the Bush war on Iraq? No need for a draft is soldiers can keep hours like that.
The drug is modafinil, with the catchy commercial name of Provigil. It is described by the Drug Guide as a memory-improving, mood-brightening psycho-stimulant thought to allow avoidance of sleep without detrimental effects—no buzz, no crash, no jitters or impairment of judgement, and no need for 'make-up sleep.”
Provigil, has been shown to increase both wakefulness and "vigilance." Researchers define "vigilance" as the ability to stay on task, think clearly and function normally.
Military use of amphetamines recently has come under criticism and scrutiny following an incident in which two American pilots accidentally killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan last year. Defense lawyers for the pilots claim that Air Force-issued Dexamphetamine (Dexedrine) was to blame for the accident.
Credit: Harvard Magazine