Melatonin and Insomnia: What the Science Says About Using Melatonin Supplements

New research finds that a higher dose of melatonin improves sleep

In a study published in The Journal of Pineal Research, 5 mg of melatonin increased total sleep time compared to a placebo.

In a small study in healthy adults aged 55 and older, 5 mg of melatonin increased total sleep time compared to a placebo.

Although recent research by the University of Cambridge and Fudan University found that seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep, many Americans get less than that. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2014 found that 35.2% of U.S. adults get less than 7 hours of sleep. It is clear that many of us can use the help to fall asleep faster and sleep better.

Melatonin is one of the most widely used nutritional supplements in the United States. Among the elderly, its use has tripled in the past two decades. But there is no consensus on the correct dose of melatonin, and studies of its effects on sleep quality in older adults have produced mixed results. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study of 24 healthy older adults to assess whether high-dose or low-dose melatonin supplements could improve sleep. The team found that the higher dose had a significant effect, increasing total sleep time compared to the placebo by more than 15 minutes to sleep at night and half an hour to sleep during the day. The results are published in . format Conifer Research Journal.

melatonin It is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain in response to darkness. It helps set the timing of your circadian rhythms (internal 24 hours) and control your sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light at night can suppress melatonin production.

“Sleep deficiency becomes more common with age, and given the drawbacks of many sleep aids, many older adults report taking melatonin,” said senior author Charles Czeisler, chief of Brigham’s Division of Sleep and Daily Disorders. But we have little evidence of the effects of melatonin on the sleep health of older adults. Our study provides new evidence and insight, and points to the importance of considering dosage and timing when it comes to the effects of supplements such as melatonin, especially in the elderly. “

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate the day and night sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels peak at night. But among older adults, hormone levels are often lower. Exogenous melatonin is sold over the counter and can be taken before bed as a dietary supplement, usually in pill or capsule form.

To accurately assess the effects of melatonin supplementation, the study authors focused on healthy older adults with no history of major sleep complaints. All potential participants were screened for sleep disturbances. The study included 24 participants (13 women and 11 men) between the ages of 55 and 78.

During the month-long study period, participants lived in individual study rooms without windows, clocks, or other indications of the time of day. Participants followed a forced desynchronization protocol—rather than trying 24-hour cycles of day and night, they were on schedules of 20-hour cycles to separate the effects of resting activity from the circadian clock. This allowed for bedtimes to be set at night and during the day, but with a similar duration of awakening before each sleep. Participants were randomly assigned to receive two weeks of placebo pills and two weeks of either a low (0.3 mg) or high (5 mg) dose of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. The researchers used polysomnography to record brain waves, eye movement, muscle tone and other key sleep metrics.

The team found that low-dose melatonin did not lead to a statistically significant change in total sleep time and that the changes observed 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 sleep was restricted during the day or night.

The authors note that their study will need to be repeated in larger trials and with other doses of melatonin to determine if a dose between 0.3 and 5 mg might also work. The study did not include participants with a major sleep disorder, and the results of the study may not apply to people with it.

“It is exciting to see evidence that melatonin may have an effect on nighttime sleep for older adults because we know that many older adults have trouble sleeping,” said lead author Jane Duffy, MBA, Ph. Sleep and the biological clock. . “But before taking a dietary supplement, it is important for people to speak to their primary care physician and be referred to a sleep specialist to rule out an undiagnosed sleep disorder.”

Reference: “High-dose melatonin increases sleep duration during day and night sleep periods in the elderly” by Jane F. Duffy, Wei Wang, Joseph M. Ronda, and Charles A. Conifer Research Journal.
DOI: 10.1111 / jpi.12801

Funding: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants P01 AG09975, AG06072, and AG044416), the Brigham and Women’s Hospital BRI Fund for Sustaining Research Excellence, and was conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital General Clinical Research Center (supported by M01 RR02635).

Disclosures: Czeisler was a paid advisor to Physician’s Seal, Tencent Holdings and Teva Pharma, and is a paid advisor with an ownership stake in With Deep and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. and was/was an expert witness in legal cases, including those involving Vanda Pharmaceuticals; holds a professorship conferred to Harvard University by Cephalon, which was acquired by Teva Pharma; He receives royalties from Philips Respironics for his Actiwatch-2 and Actiwatch Spectrum devices.

2022-06-04 21:21:53

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