Live More Now or Live Longer Later?

I had this debate the other day, and I want your thoughts.

If you could take a pill that would let you get the equivalent of 8 hours of sleep a night even though you actually sleep only 4 hours, but each pill would reduce the overall length of your life by 4 hours, would you take the pill on occasion?

The pros: You’re alive now–why not enjoy more of every day now? Sure, you might live to a ripe old age, but you could also get hit by a Mini Cooper tomorrow and die early. Plus, you’re young. You can do things now that you won’t be able to do when you’re 70. So why not enjoy extended youthful days? Surely your old self won’t begrudge you. And it’s not like you have to take the pill every day. You can take it whenever you want.

The cons: You like sleep–why would you try to reduce it? Plus, who knows what the pill is doing to your body? After all, it’s literally cutting chunks off your life. It’s not like cigarettes, which just increase the probability of early death. By taking the pill, you are guaranteeing that you will die early. I certainly think it’s an interesting concept, one that probably isn’t beyond science.

Sleep fascinates me. We spend nearly a third of our lives just laying in bed not doing anything–think about that! Think about how much time that is–if you live until you’re 90, you’ll spend nearly 30 years of your life asleep. Seems like an awful waste of time. And yet without sleep, we can’t operate properly. We need it. But that’s not to say that we couldn’t truncate it with a sleep pill. Would you take it?