It is indisputable that lack of nighttime sleep negatively affects our physical and mental health. That is why so many of us inevitably reach for sleep pill that is designed to provide us with undisturbed sleep at night.
Within a period of a couple of days, I read a story about football coach Jim Harbaugh calling sleep his version of a “natural steroid” and then Gwyneth Paltrow’s article that suggests sleep is more important than diet.
Having just crossed the age of 40 I’m all about fighting the clock these days so coming across these two articles perked my interest.
Then as if on cue I came across a presentation from a company called Blake Insomnia Therapeutics (BKIT) that really set me off on a journey to learn more about the topic. Blake is a young company with an interesting product that I’ll touch on in a moment.
Why sleep is important
When I was under forty I was guilty of feeling rather invincible. It wasn’t that I felt like I was Superman, it just never dawned on me that something bad might happen. When it came to sleep I actually took pride in being able to function with little to no sleep. I wore it as a sign of my willpower.
That was ignorant of me. Missing out on sleep is a major error.
I’ve come to understand that the reason sleep is so important is that this is the time that the body gets to perform vital functions. Functions such as:
- Healing damaged cells
- Boosting your immune system
- Recharging your heart and cardiovascular system
I’ve always eaten very carefully because I knew that the food I ingest has consequences. What I didn’t grasp is that while I’m asleep my body can actually work on repairing damaged cells.
Who knows how many years people who don’t get enough sleep by choice may be throwing away? How much faster do we age if we don’t get enough sleep? Worse still, what happens to the people who suffer from chronic insomnia and don’t get more than a few hours of sleep per night for years?
Insomnia is a major health hazard.
Blake Insomnia – A speculative bet on an insomnia breakthrough
For years I have worked for a man who has trouble sleeping. His usual description of his problem was that he would fall asleep around midnight, wake up at 2 am and then stare at the ceiling until morning.
He was missing 5 hours of sleep a night.
I finally asked him why he doesn’t use some sort of sleep medication?
His answer was that he couldn’t stand the side-effects that came with the medication and was also alarmed about the increased tolerance he had developed for the drugs.
I’m far from an expert on this but my understanding (after doing some reading) is that current prescriptions for sleep problems are generally some form of nervous system depressant. What these drugs do is numb your alertness and force you to fall asleep in an unnatural manner.
There is not set amount of time that these effects last.
The leading drugs that do this are branded hypnotics like Lunesta, Ambien and Rozerem. All of these options have undesirable side-effects with the main problem being residual daytime sedation/grogginess.
It is hard to know if it is worse to lack sleep or to take a hypnotic and then spend the next day in that kind of state.
Most of us can’t afford to show up at work in an impaired manner like this. For many people, it would be downright dangerous to do so. The FDA has actually discussed its concern about the side effects of branded hypnotics warning about hallucinations, violent outbursts, binge eating and sleepwalking.
What Blake Insomnia is attempting to do is provide a better solution for people suffering from insomnia. By better, I mean eliminating the main unwanted side-effect of residual sedation and these others.
Blake Insomnia’s solution is a Phase II drug called Zleepmax. The company claims that instead of forcing you to fall asleep that Zleepmax addresses the physical stress symptoms that are keeping you awake.
Interestingly the major active ingredient in Zleepmax is a second generation beta-blocker which reduces stress. The key point there is that it is a second generation beta-blocker as first generation beta-blockers were actually linked to sleep problems themselves.
This is apparently a more natural way to get to sleep and the result is that users don’t have any of the usual next day side-effects. The graphic below details the ideal insomnia solution that Blake Insomnia hopes Zleepmax can be.
The basis for Zleepmax seems to be a 2006 study that showed second generation beta-blockers Nebivolol and Bisoprolol do not have an impact on nocturnal melatonin release.
With upwards of 60 million Americans suffering from insomnia, the potential of a side-effect free drug is obviously very large. I’ve read estimates of annual revenues related to treating insomnia ranging from $1.4 billion to $2.0 billion. The companies capturing most of that market are the ones selling the drugs that induce the daytime sluggishness that Zleepmax is designed to avoid.
Those companies would be the prey that Blake Insomnia is hunting.
To be aware of
Blake Insomnia Therapeutics has an idea to provide a better solution for a very large market. At this point, we need to be very clear that it is an idea and not much more. Readers need to be aware that the company is going to need significant financing and that Zleepmax still must go through several more phases of testing before it is improved. This is a speculative stage company at this point.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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