24 February 2010

Cue The Dream Sequence.

It's no secret that I'm a night owl -- have been for most of my adult life. A typical night finds me wide awake until anytime from midnight to two in the morning. This might be because some nights I work out relatively late and I'm still keyed up from the exercise, but that's probably a poor excuse. The fact remains that I really could use a couple hours more sleep each night.

A few years back I researched sleep aids in an effort to try to get on a more regular, healthy sleep cycle and learned about melatonin. According to WebMD, it's a hormone that our bodies produce which
helps control your sleep and wake cycles ... [Y]our body clock controls how much melatonin your body makes. Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.


It's used to control jetlag, reduce chronic headaches, treat Seasonal Affective Order (SAD), and may even slow the spread of cancer and boost the immune system (although the research supporting the last two claims is yet incomplete). All fine and good. But what I was really interested in was its ability to control sleeping patterns -- one of the obvious side effects of taking melatonin is drowsiness. This excerpt from the Wikipedia article was especially interesting:
Some supplemental melatonin users report an increase in vivid dreaming. Extremely high doses of melatonin (50 mg) dramatically increased REM sleep time and dream activity in both people with and without narcolepsy. Many psychoactive drugs, such as cannabis and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), increase melatonin synthesis. It has been suggested that nonpolar (lipid-soluble) indolic hallucinogenic drugs emulate melatonin activity in the awakened state and that both act on the same areas of the brain.
Okay. So basically, if I take melatonin, I should:
  1. fall asleep sooner and experience deeper sleep;
  2. have awesomely vivid dream sequences; and
  3. feel like I just sparked some kush?

Actually, I have used melatonin on and off for the past few years and it does work -- when I remember to take it. I did experience drowsiness soon after I gulped down a pill, and my dreams seemed pretty lush and colorful, as if I'd turned up the volume, brightness and saturation controls in my brain. Overall an enjoyable, positive experience with dual benefits (more sleep and nightly subconscious entertainment). Unfortunately, with me being my inconsistent self, I'd put the bottle somewhere and forget about the stuff entirely for months at a time.


So in a renewed effort to become a healthier individual (and coinciding with Lent), I re-upped on my supply and will begin a new melatonin regimen starting tonight. Who knows, if my dreams end up being interesting enough, I may write about them too.

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