A new drug could potentially allow individuals to “cut their sleep requirements to as few as 2.5 hours a night without a decrease in mental acuity.” Yglesias ponders the implications of widespread use:
The most important place to start is probably just to remember that the world is a great big place full of enormous diversity. People in certain kinds of high-status professions—CEOs and Ezra Klein and such—will presumably be de facto required to work 18 hour days if they can get by on two hours of sleep. All the way at the other end of the spectrum, people like migrant factory workers in China (or whatever the new China is in terms of sweatshop work) will probably do the same, working super-long workweeks in order to save up money and go back home.
But beyond that … I dunno.