No-Doz don't help some people stay awake... However a new drug, Provigil, is being touted as a pill to keep you awake longer without side effects. The question is whether anyone other than diagnosed narcoleptics (the only people currently permitted to use it) will benefit from the drug... and does anyone else have a legitimate need? If this drug does what it's supposed to, corporate high flyers will be lining up for them - wherever they can get their hands on them.

If you're not familiar with alertness/anti-sleep drugs, think of it this way: stimulants buzz you and then you crash off the high. Alertness drugs work on certain parts of the brain to keep you awake "naturally", so when they wear off you just go back to a normal sleep cycle. Staying awake is not the same thing as getting pumped on stimulants.

The article goes into the ethical questions that this sort of development brings to light. If a pilot on a long flight could be kept alert using this drug, is it right to refuse to supply them? Is it right to expect them to take a drug instead of being relieved at the controls by another pilot?


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