According to a persistent legend of the early 1960s, a so-called "Russian sleep machine" could save a person six hours a day by sending a gentle, sleep-intensifying electric current through the brain. "In two hours the brain's owner has had a full night's sleep," the New Yorker reported dubiously in 1963. "Up he pops, we must suppose, crackling and full of beans, all cobwebs gone, at two in the morning. . . . Look at it from either end, he has saved a whole lot of time." If only he could. Instead, sleep-disorder clinics have more than tripled in the United States over the past decade. We are a collection of zombies, researchers believe; sleep loss is epidemic. And possibly contagious-are you keeping a spouse awake, by any chance? All right, maybe you actually treasure your waking time in the dark: the nightclubs, or modern equivalent; the restless sounds and people of city streets in their own state of insomnia; the ability to buy a bagel and fresh coffee and tomorrow morning's newspaper at midnight. That's you. No one can measure the global economic cost of sleeplessness: lost alertness at work, clouded thinking at air-traffic centers, a large fraction of all car and truck accidents, and distraction in the control room at Three Mile Island. In our groggy condition, the slicing away of an hour each spring at the onset of daylight saving time-our once-a-year twenty-three-hour day-causes a noticeable rise in car crashes and accidental deaths of all kinds.