Monday, June 06, 2005

Insomnia: Acclamation Degradation

Before moving onto part two of my blog on blogging, I wanted to write up a quick report on my progress with Melatonin just in case you were thinking of using it to treat your insomnia.

After a week and a half on Optimum Nutrition's Melatonin I have to stop. Like most geeks and other tortured souls I am up late into the night, but often I can't go to sleep even if I want to. I don't tend to need caffeine or stimulants to stay up late. I'm awake already. That's why I thought perhaps Melatonin could safely help me turn my clock back while helping me sleep through the night. If you are used to caffeine to get your ticker tocking into the wee hours you may want to consider cutting back before popping what some describe as "nature's sleeping pill". What worked at first for me began to work adversely.

The first week Melatonin worked wonderfully. I pushed my bedtime back by hours. But soon the Melatonin stopped making me sleepy. You know how it is - the bane of all modern artificial meds. At first you feel an effect but then you acclimate to it. Then the doctor helpfully offers to boost the dosage which works for a while until you acclimate to it. Because Melatonin was losing its effect on me I wasn't being forced to bed by induced sleep. I didn't increase the dosage, however, but instead worked on getting myself to bed on my own. The Melatonin still made me sleepier than usual if I gave it a chance. It just wasn't knocking me over the head with a two-by-four as it did at first. Soon, though, my insomnia was followed by lethargic mornings, then lethargic days. The last two days on Melatonin were the worst. I walked around like a zombie. I had interesting sexual side effects as well (A bit of research at Wikipedia showed that "Melatonin can suppress libido by inhibiting secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from the anterior pituitary gland" - the anti-Viagra). My equilibrium was also affected (which may be a side effect of exacerbating the Chronic Motor Tic Disorder) and a depression sunk in. All this on only 3mg daily.

It is now one week since I stopped taking Melatonin and I still haven't returned to "normal" - well, as normal as somebody like me can ever be. It has been my opinion that using meds to treat your problems is nothing more than a crutch and this experience did little to change my mind on the subject. That's not to say crutches are bad but that eventually one hopes to no longer need them and walk on one's own power. If I take Melatonin again, I will only use it for five days - this is assuming I take it again. Although melatonin is a natural chemical in the brain, the melatonin available in stores is artificial. And there's the rub. My system is simply too sensitive for these modern wonder drugs. This is no different for me than all the other sleep medications I have tried - complete with acclamation and side effects. Your mileage may vary.

Positives: With six or more hours of sleep a night I stopped ticking. Assuming I took it at a decent hour (since I had to wake up early each day to drive the girls to school), I found going to sleep much easier and therefor I was much better rested. With good rest went the ticking. Also, there were no hallucinations as was the case when I took Ambien.

Negatives: I had furiously fast acclamation to it. In addition, it built up in my system until it didn't make me sleepy enough to fall asleep and left me groggy throughout the following day. Really exacerbated my Chronic Motor Tic Disorder in the end. I'd hate to think how screwed up I'd be today if I had increased the dosage beyond 3mg.

All this proves is that I need a good night's rest to offset the stupid ticking. Using Melatonin in this case was like treating a stubbed toe with crutches and ending up with wooden splinters in my armpits.

Just for fun, click on the link attached to this blog entry. I shot that video on my way home the other day. Simply the funniest thing I had seen in a while. Too bad I only had my Zire72's camera to film it with.
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