Medicine developed for Chinese Army to fight sleep
By Yoon Ye-seul
The People’s Liberation Army of China has developed a drug to keep soldiers awake and alert for four consecutive days.
The drug, called “Night Eagle,” allows soldiers to stay awake and remain strong, reported Hong Kong media Sunday, quoting the China Central Television (CCTV), the major state broadcaster in the country.
The Academy of Military Medical Sciences unveiled the blue-colored pill as one of 600 scientific achievements, in an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of the organization.
“Our troops will be able to stay awake for a long time while being able to maintain cognitive abilities when they are deployed in search and rescue operations after earthquakes, floods and other disasters, and on some special military missions,” said Wang Lin, one of the researchers who works at the academy.
As some experts expected, the research agency has not revealed the ingredients or possible side effects of the drug as well as how it works. However, they have said it probably works in the same way as other stimulants developed in the West.
“Although I have no information about the newly invented drug, it is not at all surprising to see efforts to control sleep and develop anti-sleep technology because of the apparent practical use in combat situations," said Prof. Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert in an interview with the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong. “The Night Eagle would appear similar to sleep-suppressants widely used by the armed forces of other countries.”
One popular military stimulant in the West is modafinil, which was originally developed to treat narcolepsy but is now used by the U.S., French, British and Indian armed forces as an alternative to amphetamines, as well as by students to fight fatigue.
Modafinil has been also popular for people who want to chemically turn off sleep with fewer side effects.
Experts also said anti-sleep drugs would be becoming more important hi-tech aids and the U.S. military reportedly developed a formula that keeps soldiers awake for seven straight days in the early 2000s.