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MARTHA SEZ: Night terrors and artifical sleep aids

February 17, 2011
Have you ever seen a television commercial for the sleep aid Luna Siesta?

A giant, day-glo green moth floats over a sleeping city, enters a restless young woman’s bedroom window and drugs her to sleep with the dreamy slow-motion wafting of its wings.

This scene is supposed to be soothing, I know, yet it reminds me of old-time vampire movies. I’m afraid of that moth.

For one thing, it is way too big for an insect, especially an insect that feels free to enter one’s bedroom after dark whenever it sees fit. Yes, the wings are pretty, in an over-the-top, psychedelic way, but have you ever looked closely at the face and body of a luna moth?

Moths are not so far removed from their caterpillar pasts as we might imagine in our flights of fancy. And can’t you just feel those moth feet prickling your back as you are sucked irresistibly down the drain into oblivion?

For another thing, on Luna Siesta, people have been known to walk, raid the refrigerator and even drive around town in their sleep, retaining no memory of their nocturnal adventures on awakening. No wonder they “may feel morning drowsiness.” Who knows what they’ve been up to?

By the time that luna behemoth glides back out your bedroom window into the night, looking for other homes to invade, you are out cold. It won’t be long, though, before you are rummaging your cupboards for Little Debbie snacking cakes or polishing off the leftover Christmas brandy and motoring off in your car to knock over a mom-and-pop convenience store.

Next morning, as you drowsily get up and turn on the morning news, you hear about a person who is between five-foot-five and six feet tall, wearing a navy blue hoody, who stole ten cartons of Kools and a case of snacking cakes. You glance over at a telltale pillowcase full of similar contraband next to the front door. A navy blue hoody is draped casually over an armchair as if tossed there.

Oh no! you think. Is the thief in my house? Then you remember the Luna Siesta warning. But you haven’t smoked Kools in years! You’re on a strict low-carb diet! And you don’t even own a blue hoody!

Well, you do now. Fortunately the convenience store, which is in the next town, had a cheap security camera. The image of the robber, broadcast over the local news, is fuzzy and distorted. Soon this will all blow over and no one will ever know, you think, as you light up a Kool. You’ll let this be a warning. Next time you might not be so lucky.

Some prescription drugs would do better not to advertise at all. The images of stylish elderly folk in possession of all of their faculties, teeth and hair making goo-goo eyes at each other amid beautiful natural surroundings can’t compete with that background voice intoning “Presby-Extasee will probably cause vomiting, incontinence, headache, seizures and allergic reactions and may also increase the risk of cancer and bacterial infection, sometimes fatal. In an infinitesimally small number of cases—so small statistically we don’t know why we’re even mentioning it— peoples’ heads have fallen off and rolled under pieces of antique furniture where they were not discovered until the cleaning lady came in the next day. You’ll love your new lifestyle with Presby-Extasee!”

If those TV codgers want to take the gamble, fine, but they’re playing some high stakes Bingo, if you ask me.

One good thing I have to admit about artificial sleep aids, or drugs, as they are commonly called, is that when you pass out on them you usually don’t dream.

Yes, I know that dreaming is touted by mental health professionals as a Good Thing, but often dreams ruin a perfectly good night’s rest by calling up specters of past calamities, school, work, scary movies or TV prescription drug commercials or even scenes from violent stories you’ve read. Whatever problem causes the anxiety is never resolved. The dreams just go on and on according to their own rhyme and reason, a sort of senseless secret twilight life.

Last night, for example, I was trudging around England and France trying to find a passport. What’s the point?

But I still resist the urge to take those sleep aids. I would opt for even my most boring repetitive dreams and scariest nightmares over the possibility of having a Luna Siesta moment.

Have a good night.


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