DailyDirt: If Only We Didn't Need To Sleep…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

If there was a disease that incapacitated a person for about a third of his/her life (say for 8 hours every day), you might think that researchers would want to find a cure. Well, that disease is called sleep, and folks are looking to why we need to sleep and how we might take more control over our sleep needs. And for the people who can’t get enough sleep (over 40 million American insomniacs), there are sleeping pills that attempt to keep them asleep. So far, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress figuring out our sleep problems, but here are a few links that you might want to read before bedtime.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: If Only We Didn't Need To Sleep…”

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DCX2 says:

Trouble sleeping?

The last link talks about people using prescription drugs to help counteract insomnia.

I can tell you from experience that you don’t need that prescription drug crap. Sleep is regulated by the hormone melatonin, which is available over-the-counter at your local drug store. It’s not some miracle that allows you to fall asleep fast; it still takes about 20-30 minutes to fall asleep, but that’s better than laying there for 2-3 hours.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Trouble sleeping?

While melatonin is a gentler alternative that is often helpful, for some people it is simply not sufficient. The reason we use different drugs or supplements to address a single problem is because people often respond differently to the same drug, especially when the central nervous system is so directly involved. The benefit gained varies between people, as do the existence and severity of side effects.

Ultimately, the best option is the one that best meets the individual’s needs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Trouble sleeping?

These are legitimate concerns. With that said, the gain can still be worth those costs. Medical need must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, not in broad generalities.

I take both a stimulant during the day and a GABAergic at night, both to help my sleep. I tried a number of supplements for several years, and I tried a GABAergic alone; while both were slightly helpful to me, my sleep still lacked any regular cycle, and I was still spending 2-3 days at a time completely unable to sleep. Extended sleep deprivation on such a scale creates an unpleasant and dangerous state. I have not had any difficulty with sleepwalking or similar behavior since beginning medication.

Not all cases are identical. Different people require different treatment to resolve the same problem. If melatonin supplements alone had helped sufficiently, I wouldn’t personally need prescription medication for this. Some individuals experience dangerous or debilitating side effects, but I have not. Supplements alone work for many others, and so much the better for them, but for some of us it is a choice between a drug with side effects and no sleep whatsoever. In my situation, the tradeoff has been worthwhile. For others, it may not be. Those affected by serious side effects do have alternative options, and often benefit from controlled discontinuation of the current treatment.

The powers in control of production (largely through government monopolies in the form of drug patents) certainly manipulate the market, but that does not change the actual risks or benefits of the chemical agents in question, though the monetary cost will likely increase (drug affordability is a major problem). If a major pharmaceutical corporation possessed a patent on melatonin or other supplements, would they no longer be a good first-line measure because of that affiliation?

kyle clements (profile) says:

Bah! Sleep is just a poor man’s coffee substitute.

I’ve been working to get on ‘the Da Vinci sleep schedule’ for the past few years. a 20-30 minute nap every 4 hours. Eventually, your body gets so exhausted you jump straight to REM sleep – or so the theory goes.

I find that irritability, diminished motor skills, poor decision making, vision problems, inability to concentrate and poor memory are the real outcomes of this bizarre schedule.

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