Dave Asprey was followed by “ABC’s Nightline” on a sleepless night as he flew 24 hours to Australia, and then, without sleep, as the vice president of a billion dollar security agency, gave two talks so noteworthy that they made the local newspapers, reported ABC’s Dan Harris.
Asprey takes Provigil, which is approved for narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or people who work irregular hours, but people are also taking it for the off label purposes of boosting energy and focus. Asprey is one of those people.
There has been a 74% increase in prescription drug’s use in the past four years. ABC news on Tuesday night’s Nightline followed two men through brain scans that showed enhanced brain activity after taking the pills, and less activity when off the pill. “We called doctors all over the country to ask if there was any down side. In rare cases there are people who developed a life threatening rash, but the truth is, in most cases, most people don’t report any side effects.
Doctors admit that they really don’t know how it works.
“Provigil is not a substitute for sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause and worsen heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Joanne Getsy, chief of the Sleep Medicine Center at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia.
“There is one big fear, however, and that is in what we don’t know. There have been no long-term studies on the effects of Provigil,” Harris reported.
“Why put yourself at risk? If you want more energy, simply get more sleep and engage in habits that produce more sleep,” says Dr. Reena Mehra, UH Case Medical Center.
Off Provigil, Asprey said that he felt fuzzy and out of it. With a four or five year old daughter in his arms, he said that back on Provigil, he felt as though he had returned from a black and white world to the bright colors of Oz. His point was why spend an ordinary life when he could have a more extraordinary one.
Asprey, a lobbyist, and a neuro brain researcher said they really didn’t care if Provil shortened their lives.
The doctor noted, why take a risk on an unproven drug simply to do without sleep?
The reporter said that he was tempted to take the pill, but he decided not to because of the unknown long term effects. “Why not eat better, exercise, and get more sleep?”