What If…? — We Didn’t Have To Sleep?

In Episode 6 of the spring anime 2017 series, Kado: The Right Answer (Seikaisuru Kado) posed a very interesting question and concept to the viewers: If you had the option to never have to sleep ever again, would you take it?

For those who don’t know the series, I’ll try to sum up the anime thus far as best I can. In the present day, a strange cube appeared in Japan and in its arrival, “swallowed” a passenger airplane inside of it. Everyone on the plane is fine though and on that plane is Kojiro Shindo, a master negotiator within the Japanese government. He ends up being the right hand man of the person responsible for the cube’s appearance, zaShunina, an interdimensional being capable of things that us humans could never have dreamed of seeing with our own eyes. His arrival comes with the purpose of pushing humanity forward in the universe and starts off by giving us items called Wam, which are balls of infinite energy. Even further, we are shown how to create our own. So we’ve solved the energy crisis forever, that’s a huge leap of progress for humanity. But now we’re at the more interesting philosophical question, that being if we’d be okay with suddenly never needing to sleep ever again.

And that’s what gave me the idea to start this series of articles. There are a lot of questions I’d love to ponder and this is quite the biggie when you really think about it. So I’m going to not necessarily ramble about the question at hand, instead I’m going to offer a few points that I think need to be brought into light as something to think about before actually answering the question.

So let’s get started!

Positive #1 – We would gain at least 4+ hours every single day

Depending on how much you sleep every night, you would suddenly gain that much extra time. For me generally, it’s somewhere between 6-8 hours depending on when I go to bed and if I actually have to wake up or not. The idea of having an extra 6-8 hours of free time to me is fantastic, I could actually accomplish so much more. Let’s just take this page alone, I could easily find more time to write articles every day if I wanted to, I could watch more movies and television shows, play more games, listen to more albums, anything I could potentially review. With that extra time, I wouldn’t worry about losing so much time in my day editing a YouTube video if I wanted to get back into that, I wouldn’t worry about losing so much time doing podcasts, there would be so many options open to me again if I had at the very least another six hours to work with.

Negative #1 – We would never be able to dream again

Obviously we could still daydream and that sort of thing, but by not having the need to sleep anymore, especially if we’d be incapable of sleeping ever again, we would completely lose the ability to dream in our sleep. I imagine for some people this would be an acceptable loss, as the idea of never having nightmares again is quite the pleasant concept. In my case specifically, I don’t often deal with nightmares, it’s very rare for me to experience them nowadays, which has been nice, but the idea of not being able to have any dreams anymore is quite the difficult choice for me. Sure, there are a lot of dreams I’d have no problem missing, my brain comes up with some really weird stuff that I would’ve preferred never experiencing, but the dreams I would miss, man…I don’t know if I could give that up. I’d lose a lot of bad, boring or weird dreams, but I’d also be losing the odd cool one I get once in a while.

Positive #2 – No worrying about sleep deprivation

Whether you’re at work, on the road, anywhere outside of your own home, you’re no longer worrying about being a danger to your life, your job, or anyone else around you. If you’re incapable of being sleepy, you won’t drift off at work, while driving your car. You won’t miss your train/bus stop, you won’t miss that TV show you were trying to catch, that moment during a sports game because you drifted off to sleep while on the couch. At work, you’re always alert, you’re never coming in exhausted before you even punch in. Granted, you could still get tired in terms of your muscles and joints, but in terms of wanting to collapse on your bed and take a multi-hour nap, you wouldn’t have to think about that anymore.

Negative #2 – We would lose all concept of time

As humans, us going to sleep every day is really the one way we have beyond a clock to recognize and separate one day from the next. I’ve pulled all-nighters a couple times in my life, it messes up your day, because without any sleep you have a difficult time in your head understanding that it’s a different day. For me at least, waking up every morning tells me automatically that it’s no longer Thursday, it’s now Friday. I can’t imagine starting my work week Monday morning and then staying up every night until 6am when it’s time for me to go to my next shift Tuesday morning. It would just feel weird to me.

Positive #3 – You won’t miss all those late-night things

I’ve had so many events that I’ve missed because I had to sleep at some point. Whether it’s sports games that start at 11pm EST, the Olympics when they’re way out of wack compared to my own timezone, a lot of cool speedruns during AGDQ/SGDQ, meteor showers at 2am, there’s so many cool things that I’ve missed because of sleep. Not only that, but if I didn’t have to leave parties and get-togethers as early as I have sometimes, how could would that be?! We’ve all experienced it, waking up the next morning and hearing from your friends about the coolest/funniest thing you missed after you had left the party, or whatever you were doing that kept going on after you left. Without the need to sleep, if you want to experience something, you can make the time for it.

Negative #3 – How would the economy change?

This is the biggest question mark of everything pertaining to this subject. With no sleep, almost everything automatically needs to be 24-hours. If we don’t have to sleep, we’re adding at least a fourth meal to our schedule, so it would make sense for all restaurants to be open all the time, the same goes for grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and anything else that people would want to go to at any time of the day. Can you imagine your local mall being open 24/7 so you can go buy new clothes? This brings up the topic of more jobs becoming available, which would be great for unemployment rates and such, but at the same time if we’re all not sleeping, that’s another quarter/third of our day where we’ll need to spend some extra money to make up for that. What if wages don’t change? Some people literally live paycheck to paycheck, how would they manage when they need to spend more now for energy, food and such?

Even further than that, how many businesses would potentially go under with sleep no longer being a need? If you’re a business that lives on the sleep industry, you’re screwed when there’s no need for beds, sleeping pills and such. Hotels might still survive as a place for people to stay at when they’re not at home, maybe beds could survive if we still think of them as the traditional place for romantic encounters, but realistically speaking, all these kinds of businesses would take a hit would they not?

Positive #4 – We could become healthier

After all, without the need to sleep, we have no need to load our bodies full of caffeine, whether cola, coffee, energy drinks any of these beverages, energy shots and pills that aren’t very good for your body. Not to mention that with the extra time we’d have, there’s more free time available to life a more healthy lifestyle. People struggle to find time to go to the gym (whether legitimately or not), now there’s no excuse, you have hours of extra time to go and get yourself right.

Negative #4 – We could become even more unhealthy

The backlash to the positive I just listed is that given a lot of people’s lifestyles who either can’t change or aren’t willing to change, not sleeping could only further the downfall they’re going on. After all, with extra hours in the day now, that’s more time they could be smoking, drinking, overeating, only eating unhealthy food, not exercising, all those things that contribute to an unhealthy body. There’s so much extra time for a person to do extra damage to their bodies and possibly shorten their lifestyle.

As a side note when it comes to health, no sleeping would mean that we’re suffering through pain and sickness until it goes away. Even beyond that, would something like anesthesia still work if our bodies are programmed not to shut down? And who knows, maybe not shutting down our bodies for a third of our daily routine could also be extremely unhealthy for our bodies, constantly running without stopping.

Minor Positives

  • Man, I can imagine all the things I could do with the extra space I’d have in my bedroom if there was no bed covering half the space in it!
  • Not having to hear that terrible sound of my alarm clock every morning…

Minor Negatives

  • Long airplane flights will be a bitch, imagine a 12+ hour flight to Japan and you can’t sleep!
  • The loss of a bed if you decide to go that route, you lose a pretty nice place for romantic activity. Cuddling on the couch is comfortable for only so long with the lack of space…

Initially when I was first presented with this idea, I was all for it. I want an extra 6-8 hours to play more games, watch more anime, to exercise more, to hang out with friends more, all that jazz!

But upon further thinking about the potential consequences of what a world without sleep could bring, it legitimately scares me. The idea alone of not being able to pass out and sleep off a cold at least 6-10 hours a day sucks really hard, it scares me even further thinking about what if anesthesia didn’t work, holy hell even if we could numb our bodies completely, we’d all die of shock thinking about what’s happening to our bodies right now, let alone hearing and maybe even seeing it happen before our very eyes. Most importantly though, I think financially it worries me the most. Needing to spend extra now to eat, drink, use power, all that stuff, I’m not convinced wages would immediately go up to counter this. And if they don’t go up, you’d have to work more to counter that. I can’t imagine going back to 12-hour shifts, or even something like two separate 6-hour shifts, or something of that nature. I’ve worked 12-hour shifts for a year straight and I’d never been more depressed, I can’t imagine doing that every day for the rest of my life.

In the end, I think the idea of not being able to sleep is a very promising and interesting proposal at first, but when you really think about it, there’s just too many unknowns that prevent me from wanting to see deeper into that. If it literally just was the dream scenario where it’s extra time to do stuff with our wages increasing but our shift times not changing, not having to worry about sickness and surgery, all the things I worry about, then I’d take it. But because I can’t just assume that’s how it would go, I can’t trust it.

So what do you think? If you had the choice to never have a sleep again, would you take it? Why? Why not? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “What If…? — We Didn’t Have To Sleep?”

  1. I don’t know. Those extra hours might seem fun and all and certainly may lead to additional productivity, but humans need sleep to process and deal with things and a lack of sleep has a few very real down falls.
    Now if you say humans can avoid sleep without feeling tired, that’s great, but are they still feeling physically rested, is their brain processing all that extra stimulus and dealing with all the things it needs to, and given more time would people actually be more productive or would we just find more ways to waste time.


    1. The assumption is in that we would not recognize the feeling of being tired in a sense of being ‘sleepy’. I imagine we can still physically tire our bodies out like when we exercise. Perhaps our bodies still recover in a similar matter to that of sleep, just without the need to actually close our eyes and shut down for hours at a time.


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