Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sleepless? Here's A New Way To Detect Why

image by xymonau,

A New Battery Of Tests Pinpoint More Accurately The Underlying Reasons

Do you remember "Sleepless in Seattle"? The 1993 movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? The movie where the young son calls into a Radio Advice Show about how he wants a Momma for himself and a wife for his dad, and how his dad doesn't sleep in the night because he misses the wife who died from cancer? Who would forget how Annie weeps as she listens to Sam Baldwin talk about the woman who is no longer in his life? Sam's story of sleeplessness becomes famous in the community of the show's listeners, and lands him the mail from Annie the journalist that brings them to the Empire State Building. As the three - Sam, Annie and Jonah - go down the lift of the building in the denouement scene, one can only assume that Annie will cure Sam's sleeplessness. My oh my, some people get very beautiful solutions to their problems!

'Sleepless in Seattle' - original film poster, wiki_*

* 'Sleepless in Seattle' - original film poster, wiki.

The complex neurocircuitry which closes the eyes and shuts down all the mechanisms in the body to bring the body to a state we all know as "Sleep" - is essentially a network of neurons that lies immersed in a cauldron of fluids that the brain keeps secreting time and again. During our lifetime, we go through a sleep/wake, sleep/wake, sleep/wake cycle which has a delicate rhythm of its own. It is the function of these fluids to regulate this rhythm. When this rhythm is disturbed, we experience what Sam Baldwin experienced - insomnia. The list of reasons why this rhythm can get disturbed is still in the process of being updated. Genetic and environmental factors figure in this list, as does stress.

The Neurotransmitter Link, courtesy NeuroScience, Inc._*

* The Neurotransmitter Link, courtesy NeuroScience, Inc.

Different factors can disturb the level of different fluids in the cauldron; say factor X increases this chemical while factor Y decreases that neurotransmitter, but their net outcome is the same: insomnia. So when a patient sits before the clinician moaning about how they couldn't sleep last night, the doctor has to sift through these factors, eliminating one-by-one the most improbable and zeroing down to the main culprit. Which factor is doing what damage? What chapter in the patient's life-story has had the most impact on the cauldron? And so therefore, out of the vast array of therapies that can be prescribed, exactly which therapeutic intervention will rectify the imbalance? The sifting through the factors and the elimination of the improbable has always been a tedious process, with a high-enough chance that the prescription the good doctor scribbles might be something less than the best, the most-optimum solution.

image by egahen,

Well, if the son had called into the show today, the psychologist might in all probability advice the son to subject his dad to a newly-launched non-invasive lab test that measures not one, not two but a dozen bio-markers that give a pretty good snapshot of the imbalances in the body's hormones and neurotransmitters that are behind sleep regulation. Armed with the snapshot, the clinician might then be able to prescribe a more optimal therapy that is just right for Sam. And emerging from the therapy would be a much better Sam, who would have taken more seriously his son's advice to go meet Annie on the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine's Day, instead of wasting time with somebody who was proving to be a compromise choice anyway.

Scene from the movie 'Sleepless in Seattle' - Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger, film.Virtual-history.com_*

* Scene from the movie 'Sleepless in Seattle' - Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Ross Malinger,

And what is this newly-launched non-invasive lab test? It is part of a medical protocol called NeuroSLP, launched by NeuroScience, Inc. Here is the site where you can find further details about this new protocol:

Stained neuron, wiki_*

* Stained neuron, wiki.

Research of course is a never-ending process. So it is quite possible that as you read this, a thirteenth and the fourteenth biomarker too is on the way, to make the diagnosis even more accurate. Since you and I don't have anybody waiting for us on the top of the Empire State Building, sigh, let's hope that the new trick in medical trade will make the good doctor prescribe an appropriate enough therapy that will help get us a good night's sleep.

image by xymonau,

[While insomniacs struggle to find a cure to their condition, here is one situation where people have reported going to sleep when performing a particular task: "I Go To Sleep Whenever I Try to Meditate".

On a different note, are you a Nora-Ephron-Tom-Hanks-Meg-Ryan fan? Then you will enjoy reading this article on another of this gang's movies - "Don't cry, Shopgirl". Which movie does this article talk about? The article title is a giveaway!]

image by straymuse,

1 comment:

  1. Great! Enjoyed the article, and its link between the SiS movie and the new medical diagnosis.