Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is characterized by loss of normal atonia during REM sleep, such that patients appear to act out their dreams. The most important implication of research into this area is that patients with idiopathic RBD are at very high risk of developing synuclein-mediated neurodegenerative disease (Parkinson's disease [PD], dementia with Lewy bodies [DLB], and multiple system atrophy), with risk estimates that approximate 40–65% at 10 years. Thus, RBD disorder is a very strong feature of prodromal synucleinopathy. This provides several opportunities for future research. First, patients with REM sleep behavior disorder can be studied to test other predictors of disease, which could potentially be applied to the general population. These studies have demonstrated that olfactory loss, decreased color vision, slowing on quantitative motor testing, and abnormal substantia nigra neuroimaging findings can predict clinical synucleinopathy. Second, prospectively studying patients with RBD allows a completely unprecedented opportunity to directly evaluate patients as they transition into clinical neurodegenerative disease. Studies assessing progression of markers of neurodegeneration in prodromal PD are beginning to appear. Third, RBD are very promising subjects for neuroprotective therapy trials because they have a high risk of disease conversion with a sufficiently long latency, which provides an opportunity for early intervention. As RBD research expands, collaboration between centers will become increasingly essential.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder; Parkinson's disease; Dementia with Lewy bodies; prodromal
Melatonin is a pleiotropically acting regulator molecule, which influences numerous physiological functions. Its secretion by the pineal gland progressively declines by age. Strong reductions of circulating melatonin are also observed in numerous disorders and diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, various other neurological and stressful conditions, pain, cardiovascular diseases, cases of cancer, endocrine and metabolic disorders, in particular diabetes type 2. The significance of melatonergic signaling is also evident from melatonin receptor polymorphisms associated with several of these pathologies. The article outlines the mutual relationship between circadian oscillators and melatonin secretion, the possibilities for readjustment of rhythms by melatonin and its synthetic analogs, the consequences for circadian rhythm-dependent disorders concerning sleep and mood, and limits of treatment. The necessity of distinguishing between short-acting melatonergic effects, which are successful in sleep initiation and phase adjustments, and attempts of replacement strategies is emphasized. Properties of approved and some investigational melatonergic agonists are compared.
Alzheimer’s Disease; Circadian Rhythms; Diabetes; Melatonin; Mood Disorders; Parkinson’s Disease; Sleep
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), an age-related neurodegenerative disorder with progressive cognition deficit, is characterized by extracellular senile plaques (SP) of aggregated β-amyloid (Aβ) and intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, mainly containing the hyperphosphorylated microtubule-associated protein tau. Multiple factors contribute to the etiology of AD in terms of initiation and progression. Melatonin is an endogenously produced hormone in the brain and decreases during aging and in patients with AD. Data from clinical trials indicate that melatonin supplementation improves sleep, ameliorates sundowning and slows down the progression of cognitive impairment in AD patients. Melatonin efficiently protects neuronal cells from Aβ-mediated toxicity via antioxidant and anti-amyloid properties. It not only inhibits Aβ generation, but also arrests the formation of amyloid fibrils by a structure-dependent interaction with Aβ. Our studies have demonstrated that melatonin efficiently attenuates Alzheimer-like tau hyperphosphorylation. Although the exact mechanism is still not fully understood, a direct regulatory influence of melatonin on the activities of protein kinases and protein phosphatases is proposed. Additionally, melatonin also plays a role in protecting the cholinergic system and in anti-inflammation. The aim of this review is to stimulate interest in melatonin as a potentially useful agent in the prevention and treatment of AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; melatonin; tau hyperphosphorylation; beta amyloid; antioxidation; cholinergic; neuroinflammation
Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a potential preclinical marker for the development of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson disease (PD) and Lewy body dementia. However, the long-term risk of developing neurodegeneration in patients with idiopathic RBD has not been established. Obtaining an accurate picture of this risk is essential for counseling patients and for development of potential neuroprotective therapies.
We conducted a follow-up study of all patients seen at the sleep disorders laboratory at the Hôpital du Sacré Coeur with a diagnosis of idiopathic RBD. Diagnoses of parkinsonism and dementia were defined according to standard criteria. Survival curves were constructed to estimate the 5-, 10-, and 12-year risk of developing neurodegenerative disease.
Of 113 patients, 93 (82%) met inclusion criteria. The mean age of participants was 65.4 years and 75 patients (80.4%) were men. Over the follow-up period, 26/93 patients developed a neurodegenerative disorder. A total of 14 patients developed PD, 7 developed Lewy body dementia, 4 developed dementia that met clinical criteria for AD, and 1 developed multiple system atrophy. The estimated 5-year risk of neurodegenerative disease was 17.7%, the 10-year risk was 40.6%, and the 12-year risk was 52.4%.
Although we have found a slightly lower risk than other reports, the risk of developing neurodegenerative disease in idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder is substantial, with the majority of patients developing Parkinson disease and Lewy body dementia.
= Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition;
= Lewy body dementia;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= multiple system atrophy;
= Parkinson disease;
= REM sleep behavior disorder;
= Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale.
Abnormalities in melatonin physiology may be involved or closely linked to the pathophysiology and behavioral expression of autistic disorder, given its role in neurodevelopment and reports of sleep-wake rhythm disturbances, decreased nocturnal melatonin production, and beneficial therapeutic effects of melatonin in individuals with autism. In addition, melatonin, as a pineal gland hormone produced from serotonin, is of special interest in autistic disorder given reported alterations in central and peripheral serotonin neurobiology. More specifically, the role of melatonin in the ontogenetic establishment of circadian rhythms and the synchronization of peripheral oscillators opens interesting perspectives to ascertain better the mechanisms underlying the significant relationship found between lower nocturnal melatonin excretion and increased severity of autistic social communication impairments, especially for verbal communication and social imitative play. In this article, first we review the studies on melatonin levels and the treatment studies of melatonin in autistic disorder. Then, we discuss the relationships between melatonin and autistic behavioral impairments with regard to social communication (verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction), and repetitive behaviors or interests with difficulties adapting to change. In conclusion, we emphasize that randomized clinical trials in autism spectrum disorders are warranted to establish potential therapeutic efficacy of melatonin for social communication impairments and stereotyped behaviors or interests.
melatonin; biological clocks; circadian rhythm; synchrony; autism spectrum disorders; social communication; stereotyped behaviors
Increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction have been identified as common pathophysiological phenomena associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and Huntington's disease (HD). As the age-related decline in the production of melatonin may contribute to increased levels of oxidative stress in the elderly, the role of this neuroprotective agent is attracting increasing attention. Melatonin has multiple actions as a regulator of antioxidant and prooxidant enzymes, radical scavenger and antagonist of mitochondrial radical formation. The ability of melatonin and its kynuramine metabolites to interact directly with the electron transport chain by increasing the electron flow and reducing electron leakage are unique features by which melatonin is able to increase the survival of neurons under enhanced oxidative stress. Moreover, antifibrillogenic actions have been demonstrated in vitro, also in the presence of profibrillogenic apoE4 or apoE3, and in vivo, in a transgenic mouse model. Amyloid-β toxicity is antagonized by melatonin and one of its kynuramine metabolites. Cytoskeletal disorganization and protein hyperphosphorylation, as induced in several cell-line models, have been attenuated by melatonin, effects comprising stress kinase downregulation and extending to neurotrophin expression. Various experimental models of AD, PD and HD indicate the usefulness of melatonin in antagonizing disease progression and/or mitigating some of the symptoms. Melatonin secretion has been found to be altered in AD and PD. Attempts to compensate for age- and disease-dependent melatonin deficiency have shown that administration of this compound can improve sleep efficiency in AD and PD and, to some extent, cognitive function in AD patients. Exogenous melatonin has also been reported to alleviate behavioral symptoms such as sundowning. Taken together, these findings suggest that melatonin, its analogues and kynuric metabolites may have potential value in prevention and treatment of AD and other neurodegenerative disorders.
While initially the oral cavity was considered to be mainly a source of various bacteria, their toxins and antigens, recent studies showed that it may also be a location of oxidative stress and periodontal inflammation. Accordingly, this paper focuses on the involvement of melatonin in oxidative stress diseases of oral cavity as well as on potential therapeutic implications of melatonin in dental disorders. Melatonin has immunomodulatory and antioxidant activities, stimulates the proliferation of collagen and osseous tissue, and acts as a protector against cellular degeneration associated with aging and toxin exposure. Arising out of its antioxidant actions, melatonin protects against inflammatory processes and cellular damage caused by the toxic derivates of oxygen. As a result of these actions, melatonin may be useful as a coadjuvant in the treatment of certain conditions of the oral cavity. However, the most important effect of melatonin seems to result from its potent antioxidant, immunomodulatory, protective, and anticancer properties. Thus, melatonin could be used therapeutically for instance, locally, in the oral cavity damage of mechanical, bacterial, fungal, or viral origin, in postsurgical wounds caused by tooth extractions and other oral surgeries. Additionally, it can help bone formation in various autoimmunological disorders such as Sjorgen syndrome, in periodontal diseases, in toxic effects of dental materials, in dental implants, and in oral cancers.
Melatonin secretion decreases in Alzheimer´s disease (AD) and this decrease has been postulated as responsible for the circadian disorganization, decrease in sleep efficiency and impaired cognitive function seen in those patients. Half of severely ill AD patients develop chronobiological day-night rhythm disturbances like an agitated behavior during the evening hours (so-called “sundowning”). Melatonin replacement has been shown effective to treat sundowning and other sleep wake disorders in AD patients. The antioxidant, mitochondrial and antiamyloidogenic effects of melatonin indicate its potentiality to interfere with the onset of the disease. This is of particularly importance in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an etiologically heterogeneous syndrome that precedes dementia. The aim of this manuscript was to assess published evidence of the efficacy of melatonin to treat AD and MCI patients. PubMed was searched using Entrez for articles including clinical trials and published up to 15 January 2010. Search terms were “Alzheimer” and “melatonin”. Full publications were obtained and references were checked for additional material where appropriate. Only clinical studies with empirical treatment data were reviewed. The analysis of published evidence made it possible to postulate melatonin as a useful ad-on therapeutic tool in MCI. In the case of AD, larger randomized controlled trials are necessary to yield evidence of effectiveness (i.e. clinical and subjective relevance) before melatonin´s use can be advocated.
Melatonin; Alzheimer's disease; minimal cognitive impairment; neuropsychological tests; clinical trials.
Sleep dysfunction is a common nonmotor symptom experienced by patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Symptoms, including excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep fragmentation, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder and others, can significantly affect quality of life and daytime functioning in these patients. Recent studies have evaluated the effects of deep brain stimulation (DBS) at various targets on sleep in patients with advanced PD. Several of these studies have provided evidence that subthalamic nucleus DBS improves subjective and objective measures of sleep, including sleep efficiency, nocturnal mobility, and wake after sleep onset (minutes spent awake after initial sleep onset). Although fewer studies have investigated the effects of bilateral internal globus pallidus and thalamic ventral intermedius DBS on sleep, pallidal stimulation does appear to improve subjective sleep quality. Stimulation of the pedunculopontine nucleus has recently been proposed for selected patients with advanced PD to treat severe gait and postural dysfunction. Owing to the role of the pedunculopontine nucleus in modulating behavioral state, the impact of stimulation at this target on sleep has also been evaluated in a small number of patients, showing that pedunculopontine nucleus DBS increases REM sleep. In this review, we discuss the effects of stimulation at these various targets on sleep in patients with PD. Studying the effects of DBS on sleep can enhance our understanding of the pathophysiology of sleep disorders, provide strategies for optimizing clinical benefit from DBS, and may eventually guide novel therapies for sleep dysfunction.
deep brain stimulation; globus pallidus; Parkinson’s disease; pedunculopontine nucleus; sleep; subthalamic nucleus; ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus
Melatonin is a methoxyindole synthesized within the pineal gland. The hormone is secreted during the night and appears to play multiple roles within the human organism. The hormone contributes to the regulation of biological rhythms, may induce sleep, has strong antioxidant action and appears to contribute to the protection of the organism from carcinogenesis and neurodegenerative disorders.
At a therapeutic level as well as in prevention, melatonin is used for the management of sleep disorders and jet lag, for the resynchronization of circadian rhythms in situations such as blindness and shift work, for its preventive action in the development of cancer, as additive therapy in cancer and as therapy for preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
antioxidant agents; circadian rhythms; jet lag; melatonin; sleep
Melatonin is a highly pleiotropic signaling molecule, which is released as a hormone of the pineal gland predominantly during night. Melatonin secretion decreases during aging. Reduced melatonin levels are also observed in various diseases, such as types of dementia, some mood disorders, severe pain, cancer, and diabetes type 2. Melatonin dysfunction is frequently related to deviations in amplitudes, phasing, and coupling of circadian rhythms. Gene polymorphisms of melatonin receptors and circadian oscillator proteins bear risks for several of the diseases mentioned. A common symptom of insufficient melatonin signaling is sleep disturbances. It is necessary to distinguish between symptoms that are curable by short melatonergic actions and others that require extended actions during night. Melatonin immediate release is already effective, at moderate doses, for reducing difficulties of falling asleep or improving symptoms associated with poorly coupled circadian rhythms, including seasonal affective and bipolar disorders. For purposes of a replacement therapy based on longer-lasting melatonergic actions, melatonin prolonged release and synthetic agonists have been developed. Therapies with melatonin or synthetic melatonergic drugs have to consider that these agents do not only act on the SCN, but also on numerous organs and cells in which melatonin receptors are also expressed.
Blood levels of the pineal hormone melatonin are high at night and low during the day. Its secretion is regulated by a rhythm-generating system located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, which is in turn regulated by light. Melatonin is regulated not only by that circadian oscillator but acts as a darkness signal, providing feedback to the oscillator. Melatonin has both a soporific effect and an ability to entrain the sleep-wake rhythm. It also has a major role in regulating the body temperature rhythm. Melatonin rhythms are altered in a variety of circadian rhythm disorders. Melatonin treatment has been reported to be effective in treatment of disorders such as jet lag and delayed sleep phase syndrome.
Melatonin, a versatile molecule, is synthesized by the pineal gland but also by other organs, including gastrointestinal tract, retina, thymus, bone marrow, and by leukocytes. Besides playing an important role in various functions of the body, including sleep and circadian rhythm regulation, melatonin also shows immunoregulatory, free radical scavenger and antioxidant functions. Because of these latter characteristics melatonin has also been found to be effective in fighting viral infections in a variety of experimental animal and in vitro studies. These data suggest a possible therapeutic potential of melatonin in human virus-induced disorders.
Antioxidant; Inflammation; Encephalitis viruses; Respiratory syncytial virus
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia characterized by excessive muscle activity and undesirable motor events during REM sleep. RBD occurs in approximately 0.5% of the general population, with a higher prevalence in older men. RBD is a frequent feature of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), but is only rarely reported in Alzheimer’s disease. RBD is also a risk factor for α-synuclein-related diseases, such as DLB, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and multiple system atrophy. Therefore, RBD has major implications for the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and for understanding specific neurodegeneration patterns. Several markers of neurodegeneration have been identified in RBD, including cognitive impairments such as deficits in attention, executive functions, learning capacities, and visuospatial abilities. Approximately 50% of RBD patients present mild cognitive impairment. Moreover, RBD is also associated with cognitive decline in PD.
sleep; cognition; elderly; REM sleep behavior disorder; mild cognitive impairment; Parkinson’s disease; dementia with Lewy bodies
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a sleep disorder that predominantly affects older adults, in which patients appear to be enacting their dreams while in REM sleep. The behaviors are typically violent, in association with violent dream content, so serious harm can be done to the patient or the bed-partner. The estimated prevalence in adults is 0.4–0.5%, but the frequency is much higher in certain neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson's disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, and multiple systems atrophy. RBD can occur in the absence of diagnosed neurologic diseases (the “idiopathic” form), although patients with this form of RBD may have subtle neurologic abnormalities and often ultimately develop a neurodegenerative disorder. Animal models and cases of RBD developing after brainstem lesions (pontine tegmentum, medulla) have led to the understanding that RBD is caused by a lack of normal REM muscle atonia and a lack of normal suppression of locomotor generators during REM. Clonazepam is used as first-line therapy for RBD and melatonin for second-line therapy, although evidence for both of these interventions comes from uncontrolled case series. Because the risk of injury to the patient or the bed-partner is high, interventions to improve the safety of the sleep environment are also often necessary. This review describes the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of RBD.
Melatonin "the light of night" is secreted from the pineal gland principally at night. The hormone is involved in sleep regulation, as well as in a number of other cyclical bodily activities and circadian rhythm in humans. Melatonin is exclusively involved in signalling the 'time of day' and 'time of year' (hence considered to help both clock and calendar functions) to all tissues and is thus considered to be the body's chronological pacemaker or 'Zeitgeber'.
The last decades melatonin has been used as a therapeutic chemical in a large spectrum of diseases, mainly in sleep disturbances and tumours and may play a role in the biologic regulation of mood, affective disorders, cardiovascular system, reproduction and aging. There are few papers regarding melatonin and its role in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Melatonin may play a role in the pathogenesis of scoliosis (neuroendocrine hypothesis) but at present, the data available cannot clearly support this hypothesis. Uncertainties and doubts still surround the role of melatonin in human physiology and pathophysiology and future research is needed.
The pineal secretory product melatonin (chemically, N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) acts as an effective antioxidant and free-radical scavenger and plays an important role in several physiological functions such as sleep induction, immunomodulation, cardiovascular protection, thermoregulation, neuroprotection, tumor-suppression and oncostasis. Membrane lipid-peroxidation in terms of malondialdehyde (MDA) and intracellular glutathione (GSH) is considered to be a reliable marker of oxidative stress. The present work was undertaken to study the modulating effect of melatonin on MDA and GSH in human erythrocytes during day and night. Our observation shows the modulation of these two biomarkers by melatonin, and this may have important therapeutic implications. In vitro dose-dependent effect of melatonin also showed variation during day and night. We explain our observations on the basis of melatonin's antioxidative function and its effect on the fluidity of plasma membrane of red blood cells. Rhythmic modulation of MDA and GSH contents emphasized the role of melatonin as an antioxidant and its function against oxidative stress.
Parkinson's disease (PD) has traditionally been characterized by its cardinal motor symptoms of bradykinesia, rigidity, resting tremor, and postural instability. However, PD is increasingly being recognized as a multidimensional disease associated with myriad nonmotor symptoms including autonomic dysfunction, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, pain, gastrointestinal disturbance, impaired olfaction, psychosis, and sleep disorders. Sleep disturbances, which include sleep fragmentation, daytime somnolence, sleep-disordered breathing, restless legs syndrome (RLS), nightmares, and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD), are estimated to occur in 60% to 98% of patients with PD. For years nonmotor symptoms received little attention from clinicians and researchers, but now these symptoms are known to be significant predictors of morbidity in determining quality of life, costs of disease, and rates of institutionalization. A discussion of the clinical aspects, pathophysiology, evaluation techniques, and treatment options for the sleep disorders that are encountered with PD is presented.
Oral melatonin can improve daytime sleep, but the hormone's short elimination half-life limits its use as a hypnotic in shift workers, jet-lag and other situations. Here we show in healthy subjects that transdermal delivery of melatonin during the daytime can elevate plasma melatonin and reduce waking after sleep onset by promoting sleep in the latter part of an 8-hour sleep opportunity. Thus, transdermal melatonin may have advantages over fast-release oral melatonin in improving sleep maintenance at adverse circadian phases.
transdermal melatonin; daytime sleep; sleep maintenance; hypnotic; EEG spectra; circadian wake drive; body temperature; alertness
Idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) may be the initial manifestation of synucleinopathies (Parkinson disease [PD], multiple system atrophy [MSA], or dementia with Lewy bodies [DLB]).
We used the Mayo medical records linkage system to identify cases presenting from 2002 to 2006 meeting the criteria of idiopathic RBD at onset, plus at least 15 years between RBD and development of other neurodegenerative symptoms. All patients underwent evaluations by specialists in sleep medicine to confirm RBD, and behavioral neurology or movement disorders to confirm the subsequent neurodegenerative syndrome.
Clinical criteria were met by 27 patients who experienced isolated RBD for at least 15 years before evolving into PD, PD dementia (PDD), DLB, or MSA. The interval between RBD and subsequent neurologic syndrome ranged up to 50 years, with the median interval 25 years. At initial presentation, primary motor symptoms occurred in 13 patients: 9 with PD, 3 with PD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 1 with PDD. Primary cognitive symptoms occurred in 13 patients: 10 with probable DLB and 3 with MCI. One patient presented with primary autonomic symptoms, diagnosed as MSA. At most recent follow-up, 63% of patients progressed to develop dementia (PDD or DLB). Concomitant autonomic dysfunction was confirmed in 74% of all patients.
These cases illustrate that the α-synuclein pathogenic process may start decades before the first symptoms of PD, DLB, or MSA. A long-duration preclinical phase has important implications for epidemiologic studies and future interventions designed to slow or halt the neurodegenerative process.
= dementia with Lewy bodies;
= mild cognitive impairment;
= multiple system atrophy;
= Parkinson disease;
= PD with associated mild cognitive impairment;
= Parkinson disease dementia;
= REM sleep behavior disorder.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that accounts for most cases of dementia. Besides progressive cognitive decline, circadian dysfunction is a prominent feature of AD. Circadian disruption is traditionally regarded as a downstream symptom of AD, but recent evidence suggests that circadian dysregulation may act to exacerbate AD pathology. A reciprocal link among sleep, circadian rhythms, and amyloid deposition has long been suspected, and data from both human and animal studies support this hypothesis. The sleep-wake cycle regulates amyloid-beta (Aβ) levels in both mice and humans. Sleep deprivation increases Aβ levels in mice, and sleep apnea and insomnia may be related to AD in humans. Furthermore, melatonin, the principal hormonal output of the circadian system, is dysregulated in AD, and this may be important because melatonin is protective in cells exposed to toxic Aβ. Initial evidence supports a reciprocal link among sleep, circadian rhythmicity, and AD. More investigation is necessary to replicate these studies and determine the extent to which the circadian system contributes to the pathogenesis of AD.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered one of the major causative factors in the aging process, ischemia/reperfusion (I/R), septic shock, and neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and Huntington's disease (HD). Increased free radical generation, enhanced mitochondrial inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase activity, enhanced NO production, decreased respiratory complex activity, impaired electron transport system, and opening of mitochondrial permeability transition pore all have been suggested as factors responsible for impaired mitochondrial function. Melatonin, the major hormone of the pineal gland, also acts as an antioxidant and as a regulator of mitochondrial bioenergetic function. Both in vitro and in vivo, melatonin was effective for preventing oxidative stress/nitrosative stress-induced mitochondrial dysfunction seen in experimental models of PD, AD, and HD. In addition, melatonin is known to retard aging and to inhibit the lethal effects of septic shock or I/R lesions by maintaining respiratory complex activities, electron transport chain, and ATP production in mitochondria. Melatonin is selectively taken up by mitochondrial membranes, a function not shared by other antioxidants. Melatonin has thus emerged as a major potential therapeutic tool for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as PD or AD, and for preventing the lethal effects of septic shock or I/R.
Night work is associated with disturbed sleep and wakefulness, particularly in relation to the night shift. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are characterized by complaints of insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness that are primarily due to alterations in the internal circadian timing system or a misalignment between the timing of sleep and the 24-h social and physical environment.
We evaluated the effect of oral intake of 5 mg melatonin taken 30 minutes before night time sleep on insomnia parameters as well as subjective sleep onset latency, number of awakenings, and duration of sleep. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study with periods of 1 night and washouts of 4 days comparing melatonin with placebo tablets was conducted. We tried to improve night-time sleep during recovery from night work. Participants were 86 shift-worker nurses aged 24 to 46 years. Each participant completed a questionnaire immediately after awakening.
Sleep onset latency was significantly reduced while subjects were taking melatonin as compared with both placebo and baseline. There was no evidence that melatonin altered total sleep time (as compared with baseline total sleep time). No adverse effects of melatonin were noted during the treatment period.
Melatonin may be an effective treatment for shift workers with difficulty falling asleep.
In the present review we summarize the relationship between the amino acid, tryptophan, the neurotransmitter, serotonin, and the indole, melatonin, with the rhythms of sleep/wake and the immune response along with the possible connections between the alterations in these rhythms due to aging and the so-called “serotonin and melatonin deficiency state.” The decrease associated with aging of the brain and circulating levels of serotonin and melatonin seemingly contributes to the alterations of both the sleep/wake cycle and the immune response that typically accompany old age. The supplemental administration of tryptophan, e.g. the inclusion of tryptophan-enriched food in the diet, might help to remediate these age-related alterations due to its capacity of raise the serotonin and melatonin levels in the brain and blood. Herein, we also summarize a set of studies related to the potential role that tryptophan, and its derived product melatonin, may play in the restoration of the aged circadian rhythms of sleep/wake and immune response, taking the ringdove (Streptopelia risoria) as a suitable model.
immune function; melatonin; serotonin; sleep-wake cycle; ringdove; tryptophan
Because of their influence on psychological adaptation, biological rhythms associated with sleep have received growing attention during the last two decades. We are presenting an outline of (1) the ultradian rhythms of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and of slow wave sleep (SWS), (2) the circadian rhythms of sleep/wake, body temperature and melatonine secretion, and (3) the infradian rhythms of the menstrual cycle and seasonal affective disorders emphasizing their importance in psychological adaptation. Particular attention is given to the consequences of the desynchronization of the circadian phase of sleeping and waking with that of core body temperature observed in the cases of abrupt time zone changes, shift work and some forms of insomnia and depression. New methods of intervention, such as the use of exposure to bright lights are discussed. A case is made for increased attention to a new form of hygiene, that of the biological rhythms associated with sleeping and waking.