New research has found high doses of melatonin to improve sleep

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

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

Although recent studies by Cambridge University and Fudan University show that seven hours of sleep is the ideal amount, many Americans get less sleep. In fact, the CDC’s 2014 data found that 35.2% of adults in the United States sleep less than 7 hours a night. Of course, most of us can use sleep aids to get a good night’s sleep.

Melatonin is one of the most widely used supplements in the United States. Its use among the elderly has tripled in the last two decades. However, there is no consensus on the correct dose of melatonin, and studies on its effects on sleep quality in the elderly have yielded mixed results. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study to assess whether high doses of melatonin improved sleep in 24 healthy, elderly people. The team found that the high dose had a significant effect, increasing total sleep time by 15 minutes for night sleep and half an hour for daytime sleep compared to placebo. The results were announced Journal of Pineal Studies.

melatonin The pineal gland in your brain produces a hormone in response to darkness. This will help you determine the time of your circadian rhythms (24-hour internal clock) and monitor your sleep-wake cycle. Exposure to light at night blocks the production of melatonin.

“Sleep deprivation is more prevalent as people get older, and given the shortcomings of many prescription sleep aids, many older people say they take melatonin,” said Charles Zeissler, PhD, MD, head of Brigham’s Department of Sleep and Circadic Disorders. “However, we have little evidence that melatonin affects sleep health in older people. Our study provides new evidence and insights, and highlights the importance of dose and timing when considering the effects of supplements such as melatonin, especially in the elderly.

The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate the human sleep-wake cycle day and night. Melatonin levels peak at night. However, hormone levels are often low in older people. Exogenous melatonin is purchased over the counter and can be taken as a dietary supplement at bedtime, usually in tablet or capsule form.

To evaluate the effects of melatonin compounds, the authors focused on healthy, elderly people. All potential participants were screened for sleep disorders. The study involved 24 participants (13 women, 11 men) aged 55 to 78 years.

During the month-long study, participants lived in private offices with no windows, clocks, or other daylight indicators. Participants were subjected to a forced desynchrony protocol – instead of experiencing a 24-hour cycle of day and night, they disconnected the circadian clock from the effects of leisure activity on a 20-hour cycle schedule. This allowed you to plan your sleep both at night and during the day, but with the same duration of waking up before each sleep. Participants randomly took a two-week placebo tablet and a two-week low (0.3 mg) or high (5 mg) dose of melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. Researchers have used polysomnography to record brain waves, eye movements, muscle tone, and other key sleep patterns.

The team found that low doses of melatonin did not lead to statistically significant changes in total sleep time, and that changes observed during sleep were planned during the biological day. Participants received a dose of 5 mg, which significantly increased overall sleep time and sleep efficiency, regardless of whether sleep was scheduled during the day or at night.

The authors note that their study should be repeated in large trials and with other doses of melatonin to determine if doses between 0.3 and 5 mg may work. The study did not include participants with severe sleep disorders, and the results of the study may not be used for such people.

“It’s interesting to see the evidence that melatonin can affect the nighttime sleep of adults because we know a lot of older people can’t sleep,” says Jeanne Duffy, MBA, PhD, lead author of the Department of Sleep and Circadic Disorders. . “But before taking dietary supplements, people should talk to their primary care physician and get a referral to a sleep specialist, who should rule out undiagnosed sleep disorders.”

Reference: “High doses of melatonin increase sleep duration during night and day sleep episodes in older people” Jeanne F. Duffy, Wei Wang, Joseph M. Rhonda and Charles A. Zeissler, April 18, 2022, Journal of Pineal Studies.
DOI: 10.1111 / jpi.12801

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

Disclosure: Czeisler has been / is a paid consultant to Physician’s Seal, Tencent Holdings and Teva Pharma and is a paid consultant and works with Deep and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. has been an expert witness, including in legal matters, owning a stake in the company. Owned by Vanda Pharmaceuticals; Cephalon, Inc., acquired by Teva Pharma. serves as a supervisor of a professorship awarded to Harvard University by; and Philips Respironics for Actiwatch-2 and Actiwatch Spectrum devices.

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