MIT researchers reported in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism that doses of melatonin, can help older adult insomniacs obtain a good night’s sleep.

“According to our research, the physiological dose of melatonin of about 0.3 milligrams restores sleep in adults over the age of 50,” said Wurtman, lead investigator in the study. “The adults who would normally wake up during the second and third thirds of the night were able to sleep through the night with the 0.3 milligram dosage.”

The researchers also discovered that the typical health food store dosage of melatonin, which is about three milligrams (or 10 times the dosage in the study), is less effective in treating insomnia. In addition, the higher dosage can cause potentially serious side effects, including hypothermia (low body temperature). The study also showed that the higher dosage elevated plasma melatonin levels during the day, which can cause a “hangover” effect in some of the subjects.

“Our study has shown that less is more as far as melatonin is concerned,” Wurtman said. “Adult patients who suffer from insomnia and are considering melatonin should consult with their doctor about the appropriate dosage. We have demonstrated that with the correct dosage, melatonin can help an older person experience a restful and uninterrupted night of sleep.”

 

* See http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2001/melatonin-1017.html

 

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