Meanderings / Kiki Obadal – ZZZZZ, Please pass the melatonin


Now you there, on the Metro train, pay attention, because I can see your eyelids getting very heavy.  Did you know that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) had its 22nd Annual Meeting recently in Baltimore?  About 5,000 sleep science professionals with PhDs and MDs attended some 85 sessions to hear the presentation of more than 1,000 papers about sleep science.  There were also 150 exhibits of sleep medicine and technology.  We could not ascertain if anyone there was selling bottled hot toddies.

Normally my skepticism would emerge regarding such drivel, but recently I complained to a friend about my insomnia and she introduced me to melatonin.  Popping one at a bedtime of 9:30 one evening, I settled down into dreamland.  With the exception, of course, of the dag-blasted 10:00 p.m. bus that shattered the evening quiet and my nerves with a teeth-grating announcement of ROUTE 10-A, PENTAGON.  Anyway, after turning off my alarm, I went into a coma and eventually woke up at 11:00 a.m. the next morning.  Awesome stuff.  Still, its a good thing I did not have to go to work that day.

In any event, so that on subsequent nights I could bore myself to sleep, I got hold of some of the abstracts of the conference.  Some of the papers dealt with subjects such as:

-Fat intake at dinner negatively affects sleep patterns. (i.e., forget about that extra-cheese pizza.)

-Marijuana withdrawal can negatively affect sleep;  this often prohibits successful withdrawal.  Researchers suggest that this is why 93 % of users fail to quit, even when they try.

-So much for the nightcap:  Alcohol intake, and alcoholism, are associated with various sleep pathologies, including sleep fragmentation. 

-Worse still: circadian rhythm disruption can cause menstrual irregularities, reproductive -disturbances, and sleep disturbances in women.

-CherryPharm of Geneva, NY, is releasing a new tart cherry juice that is said to improve sleep.  It would appear that tart cherries contain melatonin and other sleep inducing compounds.  Or, you could have some turkey.  Long live tryptophan.

-Good REM sleep, or deep dreaming sleep, can help us forget bad emotional experiences and process them.

-Sleeping just after studying or memorizing things can enhance explicit memory retention.

The AASM also publishes a scientific journal, called Sleep.  Hmm.  Sounds like good bedtime reading. Nighty night.