Artist Animates What It Feels Like to Take Melatonin | Smart News | Smithsonian
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Artist Animates What It Feels Like to Take Melatonin

The viewer feels both the frustration of insomnia, and the pleasant lull of the melatonin

smithsonian.com

Nearly forty percent of Americans have a hard time falling asleep at night, and many of them turn to melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, to try to fight insomnia without sedative drugs. But melatonin can create an odd sensation of flitting between wakefulness and sleep. 

One artist tried to capture that feeling in an animation. Maisie Skidmore from the blog It’s Nice That explains:

You know that weird limbo that occurs halfway between sleep and wakefulness where you can see hundreds of tiny images flickering over the insides of your eyelids in very quick succession but you don’t know quite how to describe it? Imagine that sensation enhanced 100-fold by a strong dose of sleep hormone melatonin, and then imagine trying to recreate the vision with animation. Tricky, no? This is exactly what Emanuele Kabu does with It’s Called “Moon”.

Kabu creates an experience that builds and changes over time, pulsing with the music, letting the viewer feel both the frustration of insomnia, and the pleasant lull of the melatonin.

As far as science is concerned, melatonin is an effective and safe sleep aid. One meta-analysis concluded that “melatonin decreases sleep onset latency, increases total sleep time and improves overall sleep quality. The effects of melatonin on sleep are modest but do not appear to dissipate with continued melatonin use.” But what melatonin actually feels like, for a sleeper, is far better captured by Kabu than by researchers. Turns out there are some things that science isn’t good at describing. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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