13 Oct 2011

Counting Turkeys instead of Sheep!

Yesterday I visited my GP armed with a whole new list of issues - some major, some minor and some downright annoying.  In the downright annoying department is my ongoing incapacity to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. 

As some of you remember, in my blog - Creating Your Own Clinical Trials (July 2011) - I am taking LDN - 3mg per night.  The drug carries a warning that sleeplessness could occur for the first few weeks but now we're talking three months.  I contacted the study doctor at the University of Pennsylvania and was advised that reducing the dosage would limit its effectiveness and of course, increasing it would turn me into a zombie!

As treatment for the insomnia, I have taken Imovane (half pill 3.5mg) also known as Zopiclone (how's that for funny!) or Zimovane in the UK, and it works.  But, it's a prescription drug.

I've also tried melatonin... it works sometimes.  I've tried lavender in the pillow and smells nice, induces relaxation and makes you smile but that's about all.  I've tried Costco's own brand Kirkland Sleep Aid and it too works occasionally, but you wake up with a very dry mouth and feeling a bit fuzzy.  There are dozens and dozens of other prescriptions, teas, tisanes and herbs (many of which I've tried) but my GP has given me a new substance to try and it's all about turkey!

Yes, turkey. It contains a great deal of tryptophan. Other than overeating, it is this amino acid contained in turkey which causes you to feel so sleepy after the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!  Who knew?

Tryptophan is one of our 20 standard amino acids as well as an essential amino acid.  Essential amino acids are just that - essential to life - the ability to help break down protein into digestible matter.  Absence of essential amino acids leads to nervousness, exhaustion and dizziness.

The University of Maryland reports on research that found that taking 1 gram of supplement L-Tryptophan can induce sleep and delay waking times.  Other studies suggest that taking 5-Hydroxytryptophan, also called 5-HTP which is made from tryptophan, is helpful in treating insomnia arising from depression.

The Livestrong website reports that tryptophan produces serotonin in the body - a natural sleep aid.  They also state that caution should be advised before taking this supplement along with prescription antidepressants.

Well, gobble-gobble...here I go! Pass the gravy, please!

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