November 8, 1999

1 Min Read
Melatonin May Help Elderly Sleep

BOSTON--A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) showed that small doses of melatonin may help middle-aged and elderly people sleep. The pills were administered to study subjects with age-related insomnia. As future study progresses, researchers hope to find a treatment schedule that can help identify those who may benefit from a melatonin supplement and those who should be warned against taking one.

Melatonin production, a natural bodily process, slows down as the body ages. As it slows, sleeping difficulties increase. "I see melatonin as being potentially useful, particularly in those who don't secrete enough of the hormone," said Dr. Richard Wurtman, researcher and program director at the MIT Clinical Research Center.

Thirty people participated in the study; all of them were more than 50 years old. The doses of melatonin varied, but all pills were administered half an hour before the subjects went to bed. Those who received the largest dose (0.3 mg) slept the most soundly and the longest.

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