US military tries using small electric jolts to keep soldiers awake

Ren wears Stimpy's happy helmet

Soldiers don't have many options for overcoming sleep deprivation outside of a good cup of coffee. If the Air Force Research Laboratory's experiments prove successful, though, troops may rely on tiny jolts of electricity to stay alert. By using a mild current to stimulate key parts of the brain, the military's scientists can keep people awake and focused for long periods -- up to 30 hours in recent trials. The existing technique produces modest side effects like skin irritation and short headaches, and it's unlikely to reach civilians any time soon. However, a refined version could eventually prove crucial to drone pilots and other warriors who can't afford to take naps during crucial missions.

[Image credit: John Kricfalusi]