Burning the midnight oil


I’VE BEEN UP for hours thinking about this column. It’s about sleep — and how little we seem to get these days.

Did you know that there’s a hotbed (so to speak) of research on sleep disorders right here in Oakland? Dr. Jerrold Kram runs the California Center for Sleep Disorders on Summit Street in Oakland. He’s not Mister Sandman, but he’s the next best thing.

As one of the top sleep researchers in the country, Kram has been conducting sleep studies in Oakland since 1981. He says it’s amazing how many people ignore the symptoms of sleep deprivation and just live with them.

“Sleep is vital to our health and well-being,” he says, adding that one of the biggest problems is snoring. Not only is snoring an irritating condition, it could be an indication of a more serious problem — obstructive sleep apnea.

“In the last few years, we have very strong evidence that this leads to high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks and strokes,” Kram warns. “So it isn’t just an annoying sound.”

The Center for Sleep Disorders is like a motel, where you check in for the night and check out in the morning. But while you’re sleeping, tiny electrodes on your body are measuring your brain waves, your heartbeat, your eye and jaw movements and more. The data go into a computer and are analyzed by Kram’s research team.

The whole process is so fascinating that study coordinator Angie Escovedo is being interviewed for an article in the March issue of Oxygen magazine. If you’d like more information on sleep disorders, visit the center’s Web site at http://www.sleepsmart.com. To be part of an upcoming study, call the center at 510-877-38SL(EEP).

Get in line

It seems everybody is reading “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. But you’ll have to get in line if you want to borrow it from the Oakland Public Library. At last count, 249 people were on the waiting list for 53 copies. Do the math, and you’ll come up with a 10-week wait for your turn to read this page-turner.

(Saint Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church, 7932 Mountain Blvd. at Keller Avenue, will host a discussion on the book, and Mary Magdalene’s role in the history of Christianity, at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 25.)

E-mail bag

Julie S. wants to know why the line at the Montclair Post Office seems longer now than before the holidays. “I waited so long to mail a package, my frozen pizza from Albertsons started to thaw,” she writes.

Julie, even the postal clerks are baffled. But their guess is that a lot of folks got unexpected gifts this year and are rushing to reciprocate. Either that, or love is in the air and those Valentines are going out early.

Readers are asking

What’s going on with the parcel of land on Park Boulevard just below Highway 13? A web of netting and pipes makes me think that Caltrans may be getting ready to put some plants in. This land was once considered for a ride-share stop, but the traffic was too congested in the area. It’s also prone to mudslides, which may be why Caltrans is willing to spend the money to landscape it.

Eight hours!

That’s how long it took to get home from the Sierras on Saturday after New Year’s. I should have seen it coming: Safeway was out of the discount $39 lift tickets for Sugar Bowl, and after two months of stormy weekends, Saturday was a glorious day to ski.

But when five popular ski areas got ready to close for the day, a crush of cars descended on the two-lane road back to Interstate 80. I was in that 5-mile wall of traffic — and finally got home at midnight.

Was it worth it? For powder purists, the snow couldn’t have been better. I just wish they’d had night skiing.

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