Study examines effects of water chemicals on sleep troubles

Aug 12, 2014

If you are having trouble sleeping, it might not be varying hours, eating at different times or drinking late. It might be the water you drink.

Dr. Raj Rajnarayanan is studying the connection between certain chemicals and sleep troubles.
Credit Photo courtesy of UB

That's from research at UB into environmental chemicals in the world around us and a chemical inside us, melatonin. That's the chemical which tells our bodies it's day or night and it's time to get some shut-eye.

University Pharmacology and Toxicology Chair Margarita Dubucovich has studied melatonin for a quarter of a century, looking at human sleep. Now, she's working with an assistant professor in the department, Raj Rajnarayanan.

They are looking at the chemicals in water which can displace melatonin in your body. Rajnarayanan says the National Institutes of Health happened to come up with a grant at the time.

"If there is an environmental chemical that can actually mimic melatonin, can go bind to the receptors and then can disable the clock in our brain and then cause a lot of imbalances which may lead to diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome."

Now, the two researchers have $437,000 from that grant to see if bad sleep regulation can lead to all of those other problems. That involves figuring out what chemicals are actually in water.