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Science

Electric Shavers Rot Your Brain 709

Posted by michael
from the luddites-right-as-usual dept.
Damek writes "According to UW researchers, prolonged exposure to low-level magnetic fields, similar to those emitted by such common household devices as blow dryers, electric blankets and razors, can damage brain cell DNA. The damage appears to be cumulative, so you'd best get rid of your electric razors & blankets ASAP! The full study is available online now. No word yet for Cell Phone users' brains..."
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Electric Shavers Rot Your Brain

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  • Re:Headphones (Score:5, Informative)

    by jaxdahl (227487) on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:49PM (#8344098)
    The electric fields induced by headphones would be different by the 60-Hz waves they studied in this study, so the results of this stucy are not necessarily transferrable to your example. A separate study would have to be done to consider this, but I suspect the worst damage would be to your eardrums if you had excessive volume from the headphones.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:50PM (#8344114) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull?

    Well, you might be surprised as how easily magnetic waves can propagate through materials. How do you think 802.11 works through walls? Or cell phones? etc.... I guess you could think of it as being constantly bathed in electromagnetic radiation of all types and wavelengths.

  • Re:Umm... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:51PM (#8344142)
    No, it's the field strength present in your brain cells. I'm quite sure it is possible to generate field strengths the order of magnitude the study used in your brain from a distance.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:53PM (#8344179) Homepage
    "Wouldn't this only be a problem if you use these devices every day directly in contact with your skull? I mean, is the range really that far reaching?"

    Actually, the magnitude of a magnetic field drops away as the square of the distance from the source. So the answer to your question is, it depends on how strong the field is.
  • STFU Luddite (Score:2, Informative)

    by EmCeeHawking (720424) on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:56PM (#8344221)
    RTFA. This study relates to 60Hz magnetic fields.

    60Hz: Cell phones operate in the several GHz band. Wireless networks do too. Microwave ovens are at an even higher frequency( and besides, are always surrounded by an effective faraday cage ).

    Magnetic fields: radio waves( cell, wireless )and microwaves are electromagnetic radiation, which are decidedly different from magnatic fields.

    This study has ZERO bearing on the effects of high-frequency non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, so next time read the article before posting your ill-informed luddite drivel.

  • Neurons (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Tyro (247333) on Friday February 20, 2004 @05:56PM (#8344227)
    are not that mitotically active in the adult brain anyway. The Glial cells continue to divide, etc... but the neurons themselves are largely established by childhood, and their numbers steadily go downhill over the course of your life.

    That's not to say that neurons don't develop new connections and synapses... they do (otherwise learning could not take place)... they just don't divide much. The implication here is that since they don't divide, they are unlikely to become neoplastic, or pass on their damaged DNA.

    Apart from the apoptosis angle, I'm not sure how much clinical relevance this research actually has.
  • by dr_canak (593415) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:00PM (#8344287)
    Here is what Robert Park (author of "Voodoo Science") has to say

    http://www.aps.org/WN/

    -and-

    http://www.aps.org/WN/WN97/wn070497.cfm

    In fact, he devotes a whole chapter in the aforementioned book regarding the complete lack of evidence regarding EMF as a health risk. I use the chapter and this topic of research when teaching stats and epidemiology classes as an example of bad science, misused statistics, and causation vs. correlation.

    jeff
  • by deathcow (455995) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:01PM (#8344313)
    We have been remodeling our house, and found the old circuit breaker panel improperly wired. The Neutral (white wire) was hardwired to the ground inside the panel. Now, having neutral grounded is normal for a MAIN DISCONNECT panel, but not for a SUB panel. If you have more than one panel, some are going to be SUB panels, and ground and neutral should be isolated from each other.

    Anyway, since neutral was grounded in the breaker panel, it means all the return current in the house was balancing between the ground and neutral wires to get back to the main disconnect panel. Now, sending current over wires makes voltage, and in this case, that voltage is seen on every grounded item in the house!! Electrical fields everywhere.

    Normally with 120V AC currents in your house, current on hot equals current on neutral, and the net RF field balance of a circuit in use is ZERO. (Try and clamp on ammeter to confirm this..) But if your ground and neutral are improper, it can make all kinds of wires have fields.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by LehiNephi (695428) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:02PM (#8344323) Journal
    There's another factor to keep in mind--hair driers and electric razors have a 60hz signal going through with a fair amount of current. Therefore, there's an appreciable amount of power being put into the air. Cell phones, on the other hand, operate at much higher frequencies and at much much lower power levels.
  • Re:ugh. (Score:2, Informative)

    by dzd12 (736551) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#8344382)
    >> Oh, and don't wear deodorant ... it contains aluminium which will cause it to be dragged through your arm... ouch. Wrong! Aluminum is not magnetic. Besides, even if it were, deodorants contain aluminum salts, not pure aluminum. That's like saying it's dangerous to put salt (NaCl) in water because the sodium will explode. The reason they don't want you to wear deodorant is because it can show up on the imaging.
  • by xgamer04 (248962) <xgamer04@NosPAM.yahoo.com> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:06PM (#8344383)
    The radiation from a CRT monitor is actually worse coming from the back of it. Most of the radiation in the front is very close to the monitor. LCDs don't have radiation at all.
  • Re:Good Science?? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:07PM (#8344392)
    I am left with a major concern. Is this good science? What I mean by this is that we have to be careful about how we determine causality. Is this a good random sample? What are the determining factors that make this causal link?

    A lot of good science doesn't prove a causal link. A lot of the times it just proves an association which the scientists may or may not believe is causal. The association is justification to come up with theories and do more research on the subject in order to figure out the cause of the observed phenomenon. A recent example is the study that use of anti-biotics is associated with breast cancer. Scientists are telling women not to stop taking anti-biotics prescribed by their doctors because they believe the cause was the diseases the anti-biotics were supposed to be fighting, but it's just a belief, they may change their minds later as new evidence comes in.

    In this case they believe it _is_ causal. They have a proposed mechanism for the damage, and they predicted that certain drugs would reduce the damage before the conducted the tests, and those drugs did indeed reduce the damage.

    "To test the idea, the researchers gave some of the rats drugs that either neutralize free radicals or decrease free iron before exposing the animals to the magnetic field. The treatments supported the hypothesis, effectively blocking the effects of the fields and protecting the rats' brain cell DNA from damage."

    The scientists may be wrong, but that's always a possibility. They're saying what they believe their research shows, and they'll be proven right or wrong later.

    And on a side note, since i use an electric shaver (as well as the many other magnetic field producing devices in all of our lives) does that mean i should start taking more anti-oxidants? Seems like whatever treatment they used on the rats would be a preferable alternative to living in a cave.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:08PM (#8344414)
    Well the monitor is basically a "ray gun' that emits the electrons right at you.

    Correct up to a point. They are aimmed right at you, but the screen stops them. Electrons don't travel well outside a vacuum. If they hit the screen too hard, you can get x-rays, but all CRTs made in the last few decades have built in protection for this.

  • by Ironica (124657) <pixelNO@SPAMboondock.org> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:09PM (#8344424) Journal
    I'd say that apoptosis is better characterized as "natural cell death". It's a natural and essential part of the cell's life cycle, and certainly isn't as alarming as the article's tone suggests.

    In fact, we have a word for cells that don't undergo apoptosis: Cancer.


    Seems you are only sort of correct here.

    Cells may undergo apoptosis from internal mechanisms *or* outside influences, but in both cases, the process induces the cell to self-destruct. This is how the immune system kills infected cells, how damaged cells sometimes eliminate themselves, etc. It may be that the cell has just determined its time is up, but in many cases the self-destruction is triggered by something going wrong with the cell.

    *Some* cancer cells have a resistance to apoptosis (through a variety of mechanisms). But the main thing that cancer cells don't do is stop reproducing. The signals that tell a cell that it can't undergo mitosis anymore goes bye-bye. Melanoma, lung, and colon cancer are among those that *also* produce chemicals that make them more resistant to apoptosis.

    (Yay Google for finding this [slashdot.org] site.)
  • by douglips (513461) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:10PM (#8344438) Homepage Journal
    Because all magnetic fields are dipole fields at best, the field drops with the cube of distance, not the square of distance. So, it is even harder to get that field into your skull.

    This is because there is no such thing as a "magnetic charge" like there is for electric charge.

    (note to pedants: magnetic monopoles are too exotic to comment on, assuming they exist.)
  • Actually (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Tyro (247333) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:12PM (#8344458)
    you are partially right, some cancer cells undergo apoptosis... while other cancer cells have mutations that fight actively against it.

    Apoptosis is also characterized as "programmed cell death," something common during development. Apoptosis of some tissues is absolutely required, particularly vestigial structures that form during your early embryology (this happen in many species, not just humans).

    It should be noted that apoptosis is not simply rampant cell-suicide... it's actually a well-described and orderly process. Rampant cell membrane destruction, particularly in the brain (we see this with larger strokes) leads to the release of all kinds of inflammatory mediators... leading to swelling, damage to surrounding cells... all bad things. Nice, orderly apoptosis prevents much of this.
  • Antiperspirant (Score:3, Informative)

    by HoserHead (599) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:14PM (#8344477)
    Actually, antiperspirant contains aluminum; deodorant is by definition free of these chemicals. It makes sense if you look at the names: antiperspirant stops you from sweating (by whatever means, which involve aluminmum salts), while deodorant just stops you from smelling.

    On a separate note, it's getting increasingly difficult for people who want to avoid antiperspirant on (perhaps ill-founded) fears of aluminum damage to one's body. Particularly for women; my girlfriend literally can't find any deodorants for women any more.

  • by wirelessbuzzers (552513) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:17PM (#8344517)
    (CRT) monitors make plenty of radiation, but most of that is absorbed by their lead shielding. That's why they're so heavy and such a pain to get rid of.
  • by Hal-9001 (43188) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:20PM (#8344558) Homepage Journal
    This article is about magnetic fields. Your CRT shoots electrons at a screen which then emits light. While moving electrons do produce a magnetic field, it is a very weak one: can you stick a metal screw to the side of your monitor and have it stick?
    Actually, a CRT uses electromagnets to scan the electron beam across the screen--otherwise it would just shoot the electrons at the same spot on the screen, which would be pretty useless. An electromagnet is used because the magnetic field strength has to vary with time (otherwise you get a constant deflection and no scanning), so the magnetic field vanishes when you turn your CRT off. And even when the CRT is on, the magnetic field has to change very quickly in order to scan the screen quickly enough to avoid noticable flicker, so your monitor does in fact generate strong magnetic fields, just not strong CONSTANT magnetic fields.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by default luser (529332) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:23PM (#8344583) Journal
    Well, you might be surprised as how easily magnetic waves can propagate through materials.

    Don't you mean a magnetic field?

    How do you think 802.11 works through walls? Or cell phones? etc....

    Those are high-frequency electromagnetic (far field) problems. This article refers to low-frequency mahnetic fields. Magnetic fields have much reduced range, so to be in their area of effect you really would have to hold the thing up against your skull.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:27PM (#8344632) Journal
    I hope your monitor is not really a foot from your head.

    EM field magnitudes obey inverse square laws so the difference between 1ft and 2ft can be significant.

  • Leaving Earth Soon? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:27PM (#8344643)
    The article abstract states that a field strenth of 0.01 mT (millitesla) applied over 24 hours caused a significant increease in DNA strand breaks.

    The Earth has a magnetic field with a strength that varies between 20,000 nT and 70,000 nT (nanotesla, the unit usually used.) Converting nT to mT using my few undamaged brain cells gives a background field strength for the planetary magnetic field of 0.02-0.07 mT. The lower numbers are found near the equator and increase with latitude.

    Using an electic shaver or hair dryer for five minutes a day would increase exposure by a factor o 0.0007, given the ranges for them found on several sites. You might be better off leaving the Earth's magnetic field altogether except for that nasty cosmic radiation it protects you from.

    Magnetic field, gamma radiation, take your pick.
  • by dr_canak (593415) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:32PM (#8344690)
    Not necessarily,

    as the study needs to be independently replicated. Something that, to date, has not been accomplished by any researchers looking at EMF.

    That's a big part of the EMF scare. The CDC ( I think) did a huge meta-analysis of all the available evidence of EMF and related health risk, and found no link whatsoever. The study came out in 1997, and even with a huge sample size of cases and studies, there was no significant effect whatsoever.

    I'm not saying it's not something that should be explored and investigated, but EMF and health risk is right up there with cold fusion. Its not something significant research dollars should be spent on.
  • by vondo (303621) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:42PM (#8344821)
    Nope, bad study.

    Here's a link [aps.org] that summarizes a lot of this research the last time this went around.

    Until this is confirmed with careful studies that really measure this effect on humans, I think a betting person would bet that this will go away. The hype, unfortunately, won't as most people still believer power lines are harmfull to your health.

  • Oscillating fields (Score:5, Informative)

    by yet another coward (510) <yacoward@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:44PM (#8344851)
    It is not a static magnetic field. A 60 Hz magnetic field is also a 60 Hz electric field. The radiation field from a dipole drops of with the inverse of distance squared. The intensity drops off with the fourth power.

    It has been a few years since I studied this material. Please let me know if I am in error.
  • by Svartalf (2997) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:56PM (#8344984) Homepage
    I went through this once before a while back...

    50/60Hz Magnetic and Electric fields seem to be rather imnical to living things.

    At DC currents up to 10ma, you probably won't notice.

    At AC currents at 50/60Hz up to 10ma, your muscles will start twitching in an odd manner...

    At DC currents up to 1A, you'll get a zap not unlike sticking your tounge to a 9v battery proportionate to the current involved.

    At AC currents at 50/60Hz up to 1A you'll have painful muscle contractions such that you can't let go if you grabbed the line with your hand(s) and if the conduction path is through your heart it'll stop it outright.

    Higher currents in DC can burn/cauterize tissue.

    Higher currents in AC can do the same, along with the consequence of stopping your heart or causing fibrillations if the conduction path is through your heart.

    Magnetic fields are likely to have similar ill effects on tissues (as it stands, they KNOW that it increases tumor growth these days...).

    Cell phones, GSM/TDMA/CDMA mobile phones, Microwave ovens, etc. use completely different frequencies with completely different consequences- there's been several studies that indicate that the RF power from a digital mobile phone may actually increase your intelligence by a negligible, but still measurable result.

    The studies aren't analogous because the frequencies are completely different.
  • by DynaSoar (714234) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:08PM (#8345101) Journal
    dr_canak (593415) sez: "Here is what Robert Park (author of "Voodoo Science") has to say

    http://www.aps.org/WN/

    [Where he quite rightly says "let's wait for replication."

    -and-

    http://www.aps.org/WN/WN97/wn070497.cfm

    [Where he said there was no evidence, 6.5+ years ago, which there wasn't.]

    Bob's a scientist. If the data says he was wrong, I expect he'll stop saying the effect doesn't exist. If the effect is replicated, it'll be good evidence for not paying attention to the likes of Bob when one is formulating testable hypotheses. Bob frequently oversteps the bounds from skeptic to critic. Even so, he's a kick ass writer.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:10PM (#8345114) Journal
    It is not a static magnetic field. A 60 Hz magnetic field is also a 60 Hz electric field. The radiation field from a dipole drops of with the inverse of distance squared. The intensity drops off with the fourth power.

    It has been a few years since I studied this material. Please let me know if I am in error.


    I believe you are. It's quadripole fields that fall off with inverse fourth.

    Dipole fields fall off with the inverse cube, as I recall. Inverse square for the individual poles, pluse an extra inverse first-power for the separation between the poles. (Quadripole fields get an extra inverse first-power for the separation for their component dipoles in the other dimension.)

    Let's assume for now that the leakage from the motor is mostly a dipole field. (CAN'T be a monopole. B-) ) For a DC field, or the "near field" of an AC field, the dipole field dominates - and it falls off inverse cube. Get two inches from the shaver and the field is 1/8th what it was at one inch. Four inches makes it 1/64th, and so on. Falls off REALLY fast with distance.

    As you get farther out the changing magnetic field creates a changing electric field that in turn supports the changing magnetic field (as long as they're both propagating at lightspeed). Then you have an electromagnetic wave, detached from its launcher. This falls off with inverse square.

    Under a quarter wavelength the near-field is so dominant you can pretty much ignore the far-field. Over a wavelenghth or so away the situation is reversed (unless your driving element is large compared to a quarter wavelength).

    So what's the wavelength of 60 HZ? About three thousand miles.

    I don't think we need to worry about the far field. B-)

    So figure inverse cube falloff - or faster if the motor's magnetic leakage has more than two poles.

    (This is why you need to get REALLY CLOSE to a magnet to erase your credit cards.)
  • Re:Umm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by raidient (751898) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:10PM (#8345124)
    Like 4 times as great .
  • by DynaSoar (714234) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:12PM (#8345142) Journal
    Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) sez: "The article abstract states that a field strenth of 0.01 mT (millitesla) applied over 24 hours caused a significant increease in DNA strand breaks. The Earth has a magnetic field with a strength that varies between 20,000 nT and 70,000 nT (nanotesla, the unit usually used.)"

    The article is about a magnetic field alternating 60 times per second. The Earth's magnetic switches polarity over hundreds of thousands of years; it is DC for the purpose of the article.
  • How close? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:16PM (#8345180)
    This is why you need to get REALLY CLOSE to a magnet to erase your credit cards.

    Not if it's 10 Tesla. Found that out the hard way. ;)

  • by trtmrt (638828) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:24PM (#8345245)
    I didn't check your numbers, but even if they are correct they don't mean much. Earth's field is static. This is also the reason why you don't care about the huge fields in MRI (as long as you don't shake your head in the fringe field in which case you do get dizzy or see stars due to the eddy currents induced in your brain).

    What these guys did was put the rats in time varying magnetic field and argue that this affects the transport of iron in and around the cells. The only problem I can see is that the magnetic field configurations from common appliances are nowhere near the field produced by a Helmholtz pair (which they used). I don't know what kind of field strengths you would expect from ordinary electrical devices but they might get farily high near the devices close to the 60Hz currents.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bexmex (663081) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:29PM (#8345294) Homepage

    ok... its important to remember our history... Lai and Singh are the same two MORONS who made similar claims about magnetic fields almost ten years ago:

    http://www.electric-words.com/cell/research/laisin gh/memory1.html [electric-words.com]

    and NOBODY was able to duplicate their results. Although the two made $10,000 a pop being 'expert witnesses' for people who brough lawsuits against Motorola et. al. claiming their cell phones gave them tumors. It looks like they must have ran out of money.

    This is the WORST kind of junk science imaginable.

  • Re:Actually (Score:3, Informative)

    by penthouseplayah (454492) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:42PM (#8345414)
    some cancer cells undergo apoptosis... while other cancer cells have mutations that fight actively against it.
    If you are talking about malign cancer only the very very few cells that *RE*develop the ability to apoptosis undergo apoptosis. The rest may undergo necrosis when the center of the tumor becomes too ischaemic due to too slow angiogenesis.

    One of the characteristics of a cancer cell is that it doesn't know when to undergo apoptosis. First tumour cells loose the ability to repair cell damage, then the controll of when to divide and when to not, (still benign), then they gain the ability to cross the basal membrane.

  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by use_compress (627082) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:43PM (#8345427) Journal
    It was a University of Washington study. The website is just reporting the results.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:53PM (#8345512) Homepage Journal
    This doesn't seem to take into account the possible self-repair that the brain performs. It could very well be that any damage inflicted on the brain via magnetic fields would be repaired during sleep....It's been reported that sleep repairs the normal daily damage done on the brain from free radicals

    But mistakes creep in. Not all errors are repaired or repairable. The more errors introduced, the more will go bad (beyond repair or cancerous mutations).
  • numbers (Score:3, Informative)

    by boldi (100534) on Friday February 20, 2004 @08:43PM (#8345913)
    some numbers about the magnetic induction of simple devices:

    fridge 0.5-1.7 0.01-0.25 0.01
    washing machine 8-50 0.15-3 0.01-0.15
    microwave oven 73-200 4-8 0.25-0.5
    vacuum cleaner 200-800 2-20 0.13-2
    hair dryer 8-2000 0.01-7 0.01-0.3
    e. shaver 15-1500 0.08-9 0.01-0.3

    So what you see is that a hair dryer, an electric shaver or an iron (not shown here) can cause _very_ strong magnetic field. The problem is you probably not used to use an iron next to your brain (3cm or such) but the shaver is _much_ stronger, because of the small distance.

    Don't forget these are ELF fields , "extreme low frequency", so don't compare with radiation of a cell phone!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:10PM (#8346840)
    If I were reviewing that paper, it would have gone on the trash heap. Statistical significant does not imply biological significance. They discuss the significance of the strength of the magnetic field, but say _nothing_ about the biological significance of the effect size (= how much further magnetically treated mouse DNA fragments diffused through the gell). Its quite possible that the increase in the probability of developing cancer is vanishingly small. Or maybe not. Can't tell from the paper.
  • Re:DC motors (Score:2, Informative)

    by dan42 (740934) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:20AM (#8347156)
    As long as an electric motor is spinning, there is a magnitic field. The electric motors in your razor and toothbrush probably have permanent magnets that spin relative to the stator coils.

    But I think the frequency will depend on the motor's spin rate times the number of stators, so it probably isn't a 60Hz field.
  • magnetic field (Score:5, Informative)

    by MacAndrew (463832) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @12:55AM (#8347328) Homepage
    I used to work with MRI, and with a 1.5 Tesla magnet the effect of distance was quite important (people have been killed by objects pulled into the magneet).

    anyway, we were told the force varied with the CUBE root of distance. according to this source, the drop-off depends on the nature of the source:

    http://www.emfs.info/source_distance.asp

    as for a deleterious effect on humans, i won't believe it until i see solid proof, preferably with some mechanism explained. distance is a good place to start -- if someone tells you a microwave oven is dangerous, ask them if they are threatened by their neighbor's? how about someone down the street? how about someone else using an electric razor? etc., etc. -- there is a lot to explore.
  • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fucksl4shd0t (630000) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @02:00AM (#8347567) Homepage Journal

    I did not know that different stages of sleep repaired differents areas of the body. But I do find this information very interesting being that I suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia. Also, some days I feel as though I'm not very cognitive after I've had a good eight hours of sleep (I'm only 27). At least, I thought they might be good hours. Maybe there is something with my sleep state that isn't helping my brain repair itself or something.

    I suppose I could try sleeping pills for a week. I just hope it's the solution. If not, then caffeine my be my only best hope to counter my sluggish mind.

    Sleeping pills don't work. Most sleeping pills use the same active ingredient as Benadryl (the name escapes me at the moment). Recall that Benadryl says "Makes you drowsy, do not operate heavy machinery"? They use the same shit in sleeping pills in order to make you drowsy and fall asleep. They just don't work, is all. :) Well, if you get sleepy from Benadryl, then you might try it.

    Instead, google for sleeping disorders and read a few of the sites. :) I've done some fairly lengthy googling and found some pretty reputable sites about sleeping disorders (I have a few problems along those lines).

    Frequent insomnia is usually a symptom of something else, like depression. So take some Valium instead. ;) It's also a symptom of that particular disorder where your circadian is off by two hours or so from the rest of the world. This is usually mistaken for insomnia.

    If you do any of the following things, stop doing them 4-5 hours before you go to bed, and you'll see an immediate difference, if not a cure:

    • Smoking
    • Drink caffeine or other stimulants
    • Computer usage

    Recall that the monitor operating at any refresh setting is stimulating your brain whether you feel it or not. Don't eat within 4-5 hours of going to bed also, but don't go to bed with an empty stomach. Your body digesting will actually generate energy that'll prevent you from going to sleep, and if you're hungry your body signals that you need to eat instead of sleep. Also, try reading within the last half hour or so before going to bed under a dim light, 25 watts or so.

    The other two things I find that work are hard work throughout the day (or exercise if you live a sedentary lifestyle, which I don't anymore) and drinking milk within an hour of going to bed. THere's a hormone linked to sleep, I forget what it's called, but drinking milk and exercise both stimulate production of that hormone. That's why the old mom's cure of warm milk actually works, except that it doesn't matter if it's warm milk or cold milk.

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