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Melatonin Effective for Treating Insomnia (in the elderly)

Posted Sep 01 2010 12:00am

If you keep nodding off while trying to read this article you probably won’t know that insomnia is a highly prevalent condition, with up to a third of all adults thought to suffer from insomnia at some time. Insomnia is debilitating and has been noted to have associations with a variety of psychiatric conditions.

Melatonin, an endogenous sleep regulating hormone, has long been mooted as a potential therapy for this condition. Endogenous melatonin production is known to decrease as a person ages, therefore it has been hypothesised that treatment with this hormone may be efficacious in treating insomnia in the elderly. However results from studies have often proved contentious, with a lack of consistency in the results seen in differing age groups exposed to melatonin therapy.

Results from a recently published randomized controlled trial in BMC Medicine have now shed new light on this controversial subject. The researchers examined the use of prolonged release melatonin (PRM) in sufferers of primary insomnia across a wide range of ages. Their results showed that PRM is particularly effective and well tolerated in patients aged 65 years and over, with the treatment response increasing and being sustained over a 6 month period.


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