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Melatonin’s role in the treatment of sleep disorders

Home > News > Melatonin’s role in the treatment of sleep disorders

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Recent studies have shown how melatonin can improve the quality of sleep and be a useful ally against associated disorders. This hormone, involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, could also represent a new treatment option for excessive daytime sleepiness and circadian rhythm problems.

he use of melatonin supplements is gradually emerging as a potential treatment for very different sleep disorders.

Melatonin is particularly effective in treating circadian disturbances, whether secondary to environmental conditions (such as night work or jet-lag syndrome), secondary to pathological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease), or not secondary to any external or pathological condition. In these patients, the timed administration of the supplement with can regularize the sleep/wake rhythm and synchronize it with the solar rhythm.

Its role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle makes melatonin useful in the treatment of insomnia, especially in the elderly, in whom melatonin release tends to be lower as a consequence of the normal aging process. By mimicking the action of endogenous melatonin, melatonin can improve the quality of sleep by increasing its duration, improving its efficiency, and reducing sleep latency.

Melatonin has also demonstrated positive effects in patients with respiratory sleep disorders, the most common of which is obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, characterized by snoring, momentary but repeated interruptions of breathing during sleep, sleep fragmentation and fatigue. Recent studies have shown that melatonin can alleviate complications associated with this disorder, such as increased blood glucose levels, cardiac hypertrophy, increased general inflammatory status.

Melatonin could also represent a new treatment option in disorders characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness in association with normal nighttime sleep. In patients with narcolepsy, melatonin is associated with a change in nocturnal sleep architecture, particularly an increase in REM sleep duration.

Overall, melatonin supplementation has shown potential utility in improving sleep quality and treating a broad spectrum of associated pathologies.

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Giovanni Cenerini

SOURCE: Xie, Z., Chen, F., Li, W. A., Geng, X., Li, C., Meng, X., Feng, Y., Liu, W., & Yu, F. (2017). A review of sleep disorders and melatonin. Neurological Research, 39(6), 559–565.