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Melatonin Sleeping Pills Effective For Jet Lag – Sleep Aid Taken Orally 30 Minutes Before Episode Helps Insomnia and Sleep Efficiency

May 7th 2006

Melatonin Sleeping Pills Effective For Jet Lag – Sleep Aid Taken Orally 30 Minutes Before Episode Helps Insomnia and Sleep Efficiency

Melatonin Pills

Researchers in the US have found that the sleep-aid melatonin, taken orally during non-typical sleep times, significantly improves an individual's ability to sleep.  Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the body at night or in darkness which helps the brain determine day and night.  This helps regulate the circadian timing. 

Exposing the eye to light will inhibit the hormone.  Previous research on the subject has been mixed, according to researchers.  The new study, conducted at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, involved 36 participants (21 men and 15 women), between the ages of 18 and 30 with no significant past or current medical disorders, sleep disorders, or psychological disorders. 


For three weeks prior to the study, the participants refrained from alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, illicit substances and prescription and non-prescription medications.  They were placed in sound-proof suites free of time clues for three days and nights in the lab on their traditional sleep schedules to measure their normal sleep structure and melatonin production. 

The participants were then kept on a 20-hour sleep-wake schedule, simulating a traveler crossing four time zones eastward every day.  For the next three weeks the participants were given either a placebo or .3milligrams (mg), or 5.0mg of pharmaceutical grade melatonin, thirty minutes before their sleep episode. 

They found that sleep efficiency during the six hour, 40 minute episodes was significantly higher in the groups that took melatonin during times when the body was not producing melatonin. Also, the participants taking 5.0mg of melatonin had a sleep efficiency of 83 percent and those taking 0.3mg melatonin had a sleep efficiency of 84 percent.


Both melatonin groups experienced better sleep “efficiency” than the group taking the placebo, which had a sleep efficiency of 77 percent. Interestingly, there was no significant difference in sleep efficiency among all participants during times when melatonin was being produced naturally in the body, according to the researchers.

Lead author, James K. Wyatt, Ph.D., said “"A landmark feature of this comprehensive research was the study of 24 successive sleep episodes in the same participants, including over 1,000 sleep recordings, across a full range if circadian phases – the body's internal 24-hour timing system. We were able to definitively show in these healthy young adults that the use of melatonin as a sleep-aid was only beneficial for sleeping when the body wasn't already releasing its own supply of melatonin."  Wyatt is acting Co-Director of the Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.


These data leave little doubt about the effectiveness of melatonin in alleviating sleep disturbances when attempting to sleep at the wrong time of day, at least under laboratory conditions," continued co-author Derk-Jan Dijk, now Director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre, Surrey, England.

Dr. Charles Czeisler, Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and senior author of the study, concluded "Melatonin enabled these participants to obtain an extra half hour of sleep when they attempted to do so during the day, at a time when they were not producing melatonin themselves. Melatonin did not help these young adults sleep at night, when their body was already producing melatonin. These finding have implications for millions of people who attempt to sleep at a time that is out of synch with the brain's internal clock."

The results of the placebo double-blind study was published in the May 1, 2006 issue of the journal Sleep.

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

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