Melatonin supplements offer little or no benefit for the sleep deprived - study says

12/10/04

Travellers and night shift workers should save their money and look elsewhere for help to fall asleep.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released information today about research on melatonin supplements. The research was conducted at the University of Alberta for the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative medicine. U of A researchers did a comprehensive review of all studies on the use of melatonin supplements to treat sleep disorders. Some of the highlights of their findings include:

  • melatonin supplements appear to have little benefit for jet lag sufferers or night shift workers
  • the supplements do not appear to benefit people who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia
  • the supplements appear to help some people fall asleep sooner once they go to bed, but the benefits are limited
  • the supplements do not appear to affect sleep quality, wakefulness after sleep onset, total sleep time, or percent of time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep
  • the supplements are safer over the short term (days or weeks), but the safety of long-term use (months and years) is unknown

The lead investigator of this study, Dr. Terry Klassen, chair of the U of A Department of Pediatrics, can be reached through Nikki Booth, who is at 780-407-8545. Nikki can also provide more information about the study.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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