Right now I am watching The Spirit of St. Louis, which is WETA’s (our local PBS affiliate) movie of the week. The movie, which portrays Charles Lindbergh’s famous transatlantic flight, makes an interesting point: besides the numerous mechanical struggles which Lindbergh faced, his main enemy was the lack of sleep and the consequent debilitating effects on the human body. Will a future generation, enabled to live without much sleep by pills such as modafinil or one of its descendants, understand the suffering associated with extreme fatigue? What great feats would be enabled by conquering our need to spend a third of our time asleep? Reducing our needs by half could be a massive boon to economic growth.
Until then, portraying Lindbergh’s fatigue is an increasingly relatable storytelling technique in our hectic world.