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Research looks to uncover remedies for sleep disorders

A UB distinguished professor of pharmacology is working with a research team from universities around the country. Their focus is sleep. "I am more interested in how I can get drugs to treat circadian rhythm dysfunctions and they may help people with depression, with sleep disorders, with jet lag and things like that," said UB's Margarita Dubocovich.

There are several medications which can enhance sleep, but many have negative effects. Dubocovich and her team are trying to improve the possibilities.

Found in many retail stores, melatonin has enjoyed positive results. Dubocovich, however, says there are problems associated with melatonin if it's not taken properly.

"You can get jet lag if you are at home," Dubocovich warned.

"There are two things with melatonin. It acts on the biological clock at certain times of day and at one time of day produces an effect that is forward. The next time of day it will be backwards. So, if you take it at the wrong time, you can get jet lag without leaving Buffalo."

Dubocovich says it's years before their remedy will be ready for human use. Meanwhile, she advises some common sense: turn off the cell phone when going to bed.

"Getting light in the evening, directly into your eyes from your cell phone is no good. It will make you awake. You will block your melatonin and make you awake."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.