Higher doses of melatonin improved sleep in the elderly

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

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study on 24 healthy elderly people to assess whether high dose or low dose melatonin the app can improve sleep. The team found that the higher dose had a significant effect, increasing total sleep time compared to placebo by more than 15 minutes for nighttime sleep and by half an hour for daytime sleep. The results are published in Journal of Pituitary Research.

“Sleep deficiency is becoming more common with age, and given the shortcomings of many prescription sleep aids, many older people report taking melatonin,” said senior author Charles Zeissler, head of Brigham’s Sleep and Circadian Disorders Division. “But we have had little evidence of the effects of melatonin on the health of the elderly. Our study provides new evidence and insights, and points to the importance of considering dosage and timing when it comes to the effects of supplements like melatonin, especially in older people».

The body naturally produces hormone melatoninwhich helps regulate a person’s sleep and wake cycle with day and night. Melatonin levels peak at night. But in the elderly, hormone levels are often lower. Exogenous melatonin is sold without a prescription and can be taken at bedtime as a dietary supplement, usually in pill or capsule form.

To rigorously assess the effects of melatonin supplements, the study authors focused on healthy older people who had no history of serious sleep complaints. All potential participants were tested sleep disorders. The study included 24 participants (13 women, 11 men) aged 55 to 78 years.

During the one-month study period, participants lived in separate rooms without windows, clocks, or other indications of the time of day. Participants followed a protocol of forced desynchrony – instead of experiencing 24-hour cycles of days and nights, they used a 20-hour cycle schedule to separate leisure effects from circadian clocks. This allowed you to plan sleep both at night and during the day, but with the same duration of wakefulness before each sleep. Participants were randomly assigned to two weeks of placebo tablets and two weeks of low (0.3 mg) or high (5 mg) melatonin doses 30 minutes before bedtime. The researchers used polysomnography to record brain waves, eye movements, muscle toneand other key sleep indicators.

The team found that low melatonin doses did not lead to statistically significant changes in total sleep time and that the changes that were observed were when planning sleep during the biological day. Participants taking the 5 mg dose had a significant increase in total sleep time and sleep efficiency regardless of whether daytime or nighttime sleep was planned.

The authors note that their study will need to be repeated in large trials with other doses of melatonin to determine whether a dose of 0.3 to 5 mg may also work. The study did not include participants who had severe sleep disorders, and the results of the study may not be applicable to people who have such a disorder.

“It’s interesting to see evidence that melatonin can affect nighttime sleep older people because we know that many older people have trouble sleeping, “said lead author Jeanne Duffy of the Department of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.” But before taking food supplementIt is important for people to talk to their primary care physician and get a referral to a sleep specialist to rule out non-diagnosis. to sleep disorder ».


What to consider before using melatonin supplements for sleep


Additional information:
Jeanne F. Duffy et al, High doses of melatonin increase the duration of sleep during night and daytime sleep episodes in the elderly, Journal of Pituitary Research (2022). DOI: 10.1111 / jpi.12801

This story is published thanks Harvard Newspaper, the official newspaper of Harvard University. For more university news, visit Harvard.edu.

Citation: A higher dose of melatonin improved sleep in the elderly (2022, May 19), obtained May 19, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-higher-dose-melatonin-older-adults. html

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