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July 15 2008

Overworking Makes A Wonderful Excuse

provigilHeard of Provigil?  Neither had I until this morning, but apparently it’s all the rage in silicon valley amongst start up entrepreneurs.

This came to my attention today when TechCrunch wrote up that people are loving it because you can stay up for 20 hours, repress your appetite and it’s non-habit forming.  Is it just me, or does this sound like the sales pitch for speed?  True this isn’t supposed to be as bad for you as methamphetamine, but it sure sounds similar to me.

According to Valleywag, the drug is actually for the treatment of sleeping disorders, but leave it to people to find a way to abuse it.  The TechCrunch article says it is making the rounds in Silicon Valley as a way for the heads of new tech starts ups to stay up and get more done.  I’m sorry, everyone can say it’s non-habit forming all day long, but if you are abusing it to stay up and do work, there is some sort of problem going on here.

I used to be one of those people who thought I had to go without sleep to get a ton done, but now that I do get sleep, though still not enough, I find I get more done.  I work two full-time jobs, exercise, write two personal blog projects daily, spend time with my dogs, get in a little video game playing at the end of the night, chat with my friends as I work, watch television… and all without the use of any drug outside of coffee.  I don’t credit coffee as I started drinking it when I was about 12-years-old and it has next to no effect on me now.

This all has to do with learning time management, which I certainly don’t claim to be an expert of, but that is what it boils down to.  Sure there is more I want to do with my time, but I have also been a much healthier person since I started making sure I didn’t push myself quite as much a few years ago.  I also think there is a certain badge of honor amongst people to say, “Well, I haven’t slept in two days!”, which all it says to me is you’re a moron.  I’ve done it, it accomplished nothing, take the nap and manage your time better.

As for taking drungs, “non-habit forming” or not, I don’t recommend it and find it incredibely stupid.  It’s not worth ricking your health for a couple extra hours of work.



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  • This drug has actually been talked about a bit recently; I heard about it on Andrew Sullivan’s blog a few months ago, when he referenced this writing by someone who took the drug for a week or so:

    http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1298

    A fascinating read, and a fascinating-sounding drug. Not necessarily the new aspirin or anything, but I wouldn’t mind taking it for a week myself.

    But it doesn’t sound like speed to me–not as addictive, no crash after continued use. It seems to effectively clear the cobwebs out of one’s mind and allows one to process more clearly. But, as the writer states, we really don’t know the long-term effects. It does, however, appear promising.

    Just as a side note, I am very much a non-drug person–for example, I refrain from taking aspirin when I have a cold (except when the symptoms interfere with necessary functioning) on the principle that aspirin just fights the symptoms that are needed to defeat the illness. I do not advocate casual drug use, but at the same time, I would not completely dismiss a potentially useful drug. If they discovered that Provigil use could be sustained with most or all the benefits and there were no substantial side effects or risks, I’s probably try my best to get my hands on some. But I want to wait until the drug is understood much better. But as a borderline type-II diabetic, the appetite suppression part sounds very attractive.

  • I just don’t trust anything that plays with body chemistry this much. It makes me think back to the whole Fen-Phen fiasco. It too has “few side effects”, but years later was found to have possibly been causing heart valve damage in as much as 30% of patients.

    It sounds like an interesting drug, but random luxury use so far, combined with early lifecycle… I’ll have to pass.

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