Well, it’s safer than LSD and ‘shrooms

I occasionally take a small handful of melatonin to help with the onset of sleep, especially during winter months, when I don’t get as much natural pineal-gland stimulation from sunlight and hence don’t make as much of my own melatonin. The stuff unquestionably works, and it also unquestionably leads more often than not to some interesting dreams.
I rarely remember my dreams, but last night I had quite the adventure. In something reminiscent of a hybrid of Ice Age and The Incredible Journey, I found myself climbing what I believe was one of the Himalayas with three companions: a duck, a small turtle, and an ape. Only the ape could speak English, so this was actually fairly realistic, except for the gift shops on the way to the top and the shuttle bus running every thirty minutes from the top to the bottom (before sunset). There was some underlying logic to this zooliogical range of co-hikers; someone had bet me that a duck would fare better than the turtle on this kind of endeavor, though I’m not sure why. We actually had to stop and wait for the duck to catch up a bunch of times, but then again had it been a cold day things might have been different.
Tracking down hard data regarding this sort of thing is by definition probably an impossible task under the current constraints of neuroscience, but I don’t think I was imagining things in presuming the melatonin had something to do with this. Looks like I’ll be keeping a notepad and a pen handy if I continue with this sleep aid, alhough jumping out of bed, stumbling over to the computer a few hours ago, and typing in Everst clim w/ totrle monkey duck, don’t forhget the bus at top was enough to trigger deeper memories of the dream later on.

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  1. #1 by vhutchison on January 14, 2007 - 1:01 pm

    I’ve been taking melatonin (6 mg at bed time)for several years to permit good sleep. You are on the right track about more vivid dreams. After reseaarching the scientific literature, I gave copies of papers to my physician and convinced him of the value of melatonin. He prescribed melatonin for several hundred (700+) patients with sleep problems. He reported that about 75% were very pleased with the results, but 25% stopped due to vivid dreams they found upsetting! As a natural product produced at night by the pineal gland in wide ranging amounts, it is safe for most people. Peaks of nocturnal production decline with age and older people with sleep problems often find it very helpful.
    Melatonin promotes RSM sleep (shows it’s working!). I have used melatonin also for jet lag, as many Europeans have done for years, and found it worked very well. Melatonin is also a major radical scavanger, each molecule can grab two hydroxyl ions, which may contain a possibly damaging superoxide.
    My interest in melatonin led to research of its role in behavioral thermoregulation of ectotherms. A remarkable compund conserved throughout evolution, unchanged since its apparent origin in green plants along with photosynthesis where it served primarily as a radical scavanger. Of course, it is also intimately involved in circadian rhythms.

  2. #2 by hopper3011 on January 14, 2007 - 2:31 pm

    “the shuttle bus running every thirty minutes from the top to the bottom (before sunset).”
    Whilst I’m quite willing to accept that this may not have been the case (dream logic being what it is) doesn’t the existence of a shuttle bus going down the mountain presuppose the existence of a shuttle bus running in the opposite direction, thus obviating the need for the climb entirely? Perhaps the duck would have been quicker if he hadn’t been trying to flag down the bus driver?

  3. #3 by DuWayne on January 14, 2007 - 8:12 pm

    I learn interesting things every day on Sci Blogs.
    I am a major insomniac and occasionaly use melatonin to sleep, as it is one of the few sleep aids I hav found that provide restfull sleep. Unfortunately, if I try to use it continuously, my body gets used to it and I ease back into my insomnia. Then, when I stop taking it, I end up with no sleep at all, for 2-3 days.
    Even more unfortunate, I am unable to remember dreams. I tried keeping a dream journal, can’t remember what I was dreaming about the second I wake up. So it goes.

  4. #4 by Magnus on January 18, 2007 - 11:37 pm

    I don’t take any drugs at all, and I have taken very few in my life, not because I’m one of those New Age hippies who reject them on an ideological basis, or because I don’t want to support evil coorporate drugmanufacturers, I just never have had any use for drugs. Still, I must say I have as vivid dreams as the one you describe frequently and I remember most of them. I won’t go into detail now, but the do have their own absurd logic that seem pretty reasonable until about five minutes after I wake up.

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