We asked Italian illustrator Matteo Gallo what the future of sleep will look like. Here's what he came up with.
Heavy rain everywhere around me. The wind keeps blowing harder and harder. The night is dark and lines of cypresses on both sides of the gravel road prevent me from seeing anything beyond them.
It must be 3 AM, or half past two, at least. I don't know how long I've been running, but I begin feeling the weight of my soaked clothes.
Suddenly, the distant roar of a car engine approaches behind me. I turn my head back while I keep running and I see two small lights growing larger. The rumble is so close now. I must...
Oh… just a dream.
Maybe I'll take a look at it this evening, he thought.
The Sleepspace. Or, as someone calls it, cybersleep. A digital region, made of large buildings without windows. The city inside sleep, the dream made of data.
Here you can study ancient and modern history, mathematics, and quantum physics, or consult newspapers from everywhere in the world. All of this during sleep. All you need is a neural helmet connected to a special cyberspace deck.
As for me, I'm not the kind of person who loves to spend his time on books when I'm awake, let alone when I'm asleep. Sometimes I play VR games with my friends (co-op adventures, mostly). But what I really love doing here is watching movies of every genre.
"Oh, what a day! I could really use a nap right now!"
"You sure look tired, but with a brain implant, who needs sleeping anymore?"
"You heard right! Now there's Circuit Doze!"
"Yeah, Circuit Doze! Just one sip and you'll feel like new! Here, have a try!"
"Wow! Fresh and crisp as a daisy! Just what I needed, and it tastes great!"
"Mint is just one of the flavors available. Find them in your favorite store! Hey! Don't drink it all!"
"Circuit Doze, say farewell to your bed!"
She turned off the television. She had just decided to go for a walk.
He thought about her as he stepped inside his open room, remembering the smell of her skin, its smoothness. The spherical room reformed around him, while images of her long, corvine hair and her brown eyes came to his mind.
Then a hundred thousands of nozzles integrated within the surface of the sphere began whispering from the lower half of the room, blowing warm air jets directed toward the center. Her voice sounded inside his head, and it was weak, like the last time he saw her.
He let himself fall behind and immediately was caught by the jets. He floated perfectly in the center of the sphere. He missed her so much.
His body curled into fetal position. He fell asleep and soon began dreaming about swimming in a submarine sky, among winged fish.
She was staring at the ceiling, laid on her resting unit. After a couple of hours spent trying to fall asleep, she got up. The room was totally silent. Only a stray dog, barking at a young man on a bicycle down in the street, interrupted the calm.
She took a glance at the unit beside hers in the feeble light emitted by its display. He was peacefully sleeping. "Lucky you," she thought. Then she moved to sit on the armchair near him.
Slowly, his naked chest swelled and deflated, repeating the movements in a perpetual cycle that hypnotized her gaze. While she was staring at him, a solution of water, carbohydrates, proteins and fats was being injected by the machine into his bloodstream.
She nodded off for a few minutes, so soon after she decided to return to her unit.
Lines of code appear on the monitor as long as the keyboard keeps ticking on the desk. Through the headphones a female voice sings a theme, accompanied by a crunch guitar and an electric bass. Colorful led lights cast red and green spots on the wall. Although it seems just like a whisper, the dehumidifier inhales loudly in the bedroom. The black handles on the white clock face point to 1 AM.
He doesn't like leaving a job half done, but it's really too late. His face appears on the bathroom mirror. He put some toothpaste on the brush and he rinses his mouth after the brushing. In the bedroom he wears something comfortable, then he goes to bed. He inserts the sleep disc in his neural player and in no more than fifteen seconds he's already sleeping.
You'll Sleep When You're Dead is Motherboard's exploration of the future of sleep. Read more stories.