Is Melatonin the Solution to Insomnia?


A new study found that higher doses of melatonin improved sleep. In a study published in The Journal of Pineal Research, 5 mg of melatonin increased total sleep time compared to a placebo. The study was conducted on healthy adults 55 years of age or older.

While recent research by Cambridge University and Fudan University found that seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep, many Americans get less than that. In fact, CDC data for 2014 found that 35,2% of adults in the US got less than 7 hours of sleep. Frankly, most of us could use help to fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Melatonin is one of the most used supplements in the United States. Its use among older adults has tripled in the past two decades. However, there is no consensus on the correct dosage of melatonin, and studies of its effects on sleep quality in older adults have produced mixed results.

"Sleep deficiency becomes more common as people age, and many older adults report taking melatonin, given the disadvantages of many prescription sleep aids," said senior author Charles Czeisler, MD, MD, head of Brigham's Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. “However, we have little evidence of the effects of melatonin on the sleep health of older adults. Our work provides new evidence and insight and highlights the importance of considering dosage and timing when it comes to the effects of supplements such as melatonin, especially in older people.”

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital conducted a study of 24 healthy, older adults to evaluate whether high-dose or low-dose melatonin supplementation could improve sleep. The team found that the higher dose had a significant effect, increasing total sleep time by more than 15 minutes for nighttime sleep and more than half an hour for daytime sleep, compared to placebo. The results were published in The Journal of Pineal Research.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain in response to darkness. It helps to time your circadian rhythms (24 hour internal clock) and control your sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light at night can inhibit melatonin production.

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate a person's sleep-wake cycle day and night. Melatonin levels peak at night. But among older people, hormone levels are usually lower. You can get exogenous melatonin from pharmacies and can be taken at bedtime as a dietary supplement, usually in the form of a pill or capsule. However, the rules in purchasing processes may differ from country to country.

To rigorously evaluate the effects of melatonin supplements, the study's authors focused on healthy, older adults with no history of major sleep complaints. All potential participants were screened for sleep disorders. Twenty-four participants (55 females, 78 males) aged between 24 and 13 years were included in the study.

During the one-month study period, the participants lived in individual study rooms without windows, clocks, or other time-of-day indications.

Rather than experiencing 24-hour day and night cycles, participants followed a mandatory asynchrony protocol.

They were on 20-hour cycle schedules to separate the effects of resting activity from the circadian clock.

This allowed the sleep to be scheduled both at night and during the day, but with a similar wake time before each sleep.

Participants were randomly assigned to take a placebo pill for two weeks and a low (30 mg) or high (0,3 mg) dose of melatonin for two weeks 5 minutes before bedtime.

The researchers used polysomnography to record brain waves, eye movements, muscle tone, and other important sleep metrics.

The team found that the low dose of melatonin did not cause a statistically significant change in overall sleep duration and that the changes seen were when sleep was scheduled during the biological day.

Participants taking the 5 mg dose had a significant increase in total sleep time and sleep efficiency, regardless of whether the sleep was scheduled during the day or at night.

The authors note that their study needs to be repeated in larger trials and with other doses of melatonin to determine if a dose of 0,3 to 5 mg also works. The study did not include participants with a significant sleep disorder, and the study's findings may not apply to people who do.

"It's exciting to see evidence that melatonin can have an effect on nighttime sleep for older adults because we know many older people have trouble sleeping," said lead author Jeanne Duffy, MBA, PhD, in the Department of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. . "But before taking a nutritional supplement, it's important for people to talk to their primary care doctor and be referred to a sleep specialist to rule out an undiagnosed sleep disorder."

Source: Reference: “High dose melatonin increases sleep duration during nighttime and daytime sleep episodes in older adults” by Jeanne F. Duffy, Wei Wang, Joseph M. Ronda and Charles A. Czeisler, 18 April 2022, The Journal of Pineal Research.

Similar Ads

Be the first to comment

your comment