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Recently I've been trying to create a sub-race of human species that's more efficient in... Well, war. Mostly stronger & more efficient, and because of that I want to ask a question. What "modifications" a human body would need to be able to sustain itself and be able to work normally without food or sleep (or even water) for lengthy (longer than average human's) periods of time?

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    $\begingroup$ Define "lengthy periods of time". People have gone without food or sleep for surprisingly long periods, but that's not a trick that anyone's managed with water. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Without sleep is very problematic. All animals sleep, including ones like sharks and swifts for whom it’s extremely inconvenient, and so it’s clearly essential and evolution can’t remove the need. The best you can do is probably for different parts of their brains to sleep at different times, like swifts. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Scott
    Apr 4 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeScott I think it's debated whether sleep is fundamentally essential or whether it's a flaw that evolution can find it's way out of. Presumably two brains serving alternate duty could do the trick, but that has other costs such as energy and a split individuality being among them. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 4 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ As MikeScott alluded to, the querent could look into the peculiar sleep patterns used by some birds. They are able to sleep with half their brain at a time while keeping watch for predators or even while in-flight during migrations. See, for example: birds.cornell.edu/k12/do-birds-sleep $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Are these bio-tech implants possible? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 5 at 9:37
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Ability to control homeostasis helps so that in warm temperatures the body doesn't need to waste calories keeping itself warm. Cold-blooded animals need to eat much less frequently than warm blooded animals, but their activity level is also controlled by the ambient temperature.

Desert animal physiology, and even birds, are also much more frugal about water consumption. No urination as we humans recognize it. Human physiology is wasteful with water in order to achieve superior cooling but you could mix this with the above.

I think it would be easier to make them able to eat and drink almost anything, but you could just give them greater fat deposits but there are probably limitations to that unless you give them a fatty tail like some lizards have. But that would encumber combat since you always have to carry your reserve calories with you.

Sleep is tough. Some people are genetically pre-disposed as much more efficient sleepers and are bright and bushy with only 3 or 4 hours of sleep per night. You could use that. Alternatively, you could assume that it's possible to just engineer sleep out since we don't fully understand the mechanisms or need for sleep.

But if you do assume it is fundamentally required then you would need some rather impractical solutions like double-brains alternating but that obviously has huge problems such as energy costs and a split individuality and skills. You almost might as well just have two people alternating sleep duty.

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Try something with photosynthesis. The species would probably look like a sort of plant/human hybrid but imagine how cool would it be to have a solar powered creature. You can make them live in a polar zone where they hibernate during the dark winter to balance it out a bit, since nothing can survive without a recharge. They wake up in the summer charged with constant daylight and go off to ravage southern lands. That’s just an idea. See what fits your setting.

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    $\begingroup$ The problem is that the OP has specified "working normally" for the purposes of being a soldier. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 4 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ There have been quite a few questions here about photosynthetic animals... the problem they run in to is that you need quite a large surface area to absorb enough sunlight to get enough energy to do anything interesting. It turns out to be easier to outsource photosynthesising to a large field of plants, and eat them when they're done. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ The main problem with this is that a photosynthesizing animal would require large amounts of surface area to sustain itself, which in the context of creating supersoldiers means very large and cumbersome body parts that serve as easy targets and that need to be exposed in order to do their job. $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 19:24
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Let's tackle the two parts -

  • Without Food

It's not too hard to live without food for an extended period. There are many mammals on earth that already do that - for ex. lions eat just two to three times a week. Our bodies might already capable of sustaining on such a diet - there are still some isolated tribes who might not eat for a few days if they fail to catch a prey.

  • Without Sleep

This is a bit tricky because we still do not understand the complete science of sleep. Apart from the psychological aspect of sleep, there are also skeleto-muscular effects. During sleep our muscles are completely relieved and it promotes muscle building and recovery.

Thus, for sleep, although there might be a way to prevent it, the easiest way could be just reducing it maybe even to a few minutes. To make sure all the advantages associated with sleep happen in this short burst, we will just need to ensure that the same hormones are released - just in greater quantities and ideally with a catalyst which can speed up the process.

The more we can accelerate the work that the body does during sleep, the shorter the process of sleeping can be.

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