Is Melatonin Effective for Treating Sleep Disorders?
Melatonin is of limited clinical value whenused as a short-term treatment for most primarysleep disorders, according to data publishedin the Journal of General InternalMedicine (December 2005). This hormone hasbeen used increasingly as an alternative pharmacotherapyfor a variety of sleep problems.
Although exogenous melatonin appears safewhen used for 3 months or less, the analysis ofmultiple clinical trials suggests that it may beeffective only for treating delayed sleep phasesyndrome. In patients suffering from this disorder,which involves persistent deviation fromthe normal sleep pattern, melatonin decreasedsleep onset latency to a greater extent than inthose with insomnia. This may be a clinicallyimportant effect. The authors also identified theneed for additional large-scale, controlled studiesto assess the use of melatonin for treatingsleep problems.