Placebos seem to bring the true magical correlation between what we really believe and bringing mind-body results in the process. While we usually look at placebos skeptically, doctors continue to use them in clandestine ways to prove that we can sometimes will ourselves into making ourselves healthier thanks to tricking our brains. And that’s almost a miracle when the brain frequently works under its own accord in alerting us to things that we may not pick up on initially.
If placebo drugs continue to make a secret impact in how people feel (perhaps on a wider scale than we know), what can we make of the new concept of placebo sleep? Some new studies have been done recently that prove how convincing ourselves we received a good night’s sleep actually makes us feel like we had a good night’s sleep.
Is there a dark side there, though, where we could end up working ourselves into a zombie state that places our health in jeopardy?
Proof That Placebo Sleep Exists
In a study that utilized something called a Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test, it was determined the patients believed it when told they’d have sensors to measure just how much sleep they’d get in one night. While sensors were physically placed on the patients, the test was simply a ruse and wasn’t measuring anything. The next day, when told they’d score higher on the amount of REM sleep they had, they performed well on the PASAT test that determines alertness.
It turned out the patients, in reality, had far much less REM sleep, though had no way to know otherwise. This proved how much the brain could be tricked into thinking our bodies had enough sleep to a point of functioning optimally the next day. In comparison, when we’re aware of how little sleep we’ve had, we have plenty of experience showing it through the way we act and think.
And that brings a deeper philosophical question about how we perceive things: Should we be lied to in order to help make us believe we’re in better shape than we really are? A concept like that has some eerie implications taking us into zombie territory once again.
Will Placebo Sleep Create More Productivity, or More Illness?
Placebo sleep could easily become a standard medical procedure in America as our country continues to suffer from sleep deficit problems. With constant medical reports that we aren’t getting enough sleep, can we will ourselves into thinking we’re sleeping better? The dangers of that obviously come in working ourselves to a point where our body starts to break down after so many days of thinking we’re sleeping normally.
Yes, this sounds like perfect fodder for a chilling sci-fi tale where mad scientists control those who work for a living by turning them into productivity zombies. Once some of them have their physical meltdowns, they’d be placed into real sleep to restore themselves before doing it all over again. In the meantime, the next batch of employees would take their place.
All of this sounds somewhat like the silent classic “Metropolis”, which was really just an early view of “1984” in the idea of slave labor. It’s why placebo sleep is possibly as dangerous as just about every other exciting medical discovery recently in being thwarted by someone nefarious.
In the right hands, it could work in conjunction with finding ways for people to get actual sleep. Regardless, it seems the placebo effect is so much easier to create and why it seems to keep being nurtured in more than just sleepy patients. Even those in particular physical labor jobs are gaining superior physical results after being told the job is helping them physically. Despite not being true, a productive worker under the placebo effect is too hard to resist for managers and CEO’s.
Someday, we may have to secretly video ourselves and see what really happened the night before after experiencing unusually fast productivity all in one eight-hour day.