Volume 4, Issue 28
July 14, 2011
The insomnia cure that works
the longer you take it
One of the problems with sleeping pills is that their effectiveness tends to wear off the longer you take them. Your body adjusts to the drugs and they don’t work as well, if at all. But a new study reveals how a common natural sleep aide actually works better the longer you take it.
The study, a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, looked at 791 men and women aged 18 to 80, all of whom suffered from insomnia. The researchers used questionnaires to evaluate how well each of the people slept. Then they measured the participants’ melatonin levels. To do this, the researchers analyzed 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (SMT). This is the main metabolite of melatonin that appears in the urine. And this is where it starts to get interesting.
It turns out that the amount of melatonin that people make during the night varies widely. This is true even in people who sleep perfectly well. SMT levels run from a low of 8 ug per night to a high of 56. That's a seven fold difference! Remember this, as I will come back to it later. The researchers then decided to use a level less than 8 ug to categorize those who had abnormally low levels of melatonin production.
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Then the researchers split the group into two. They gave half of them a 2 mg timed-release tablet of melatonin. They gave the other half a placebo.
In just three weeks, the researchers found that those taking the melatonin supplement were sleeping significantly better than those on the placebo. Specifically, they found that in the over-65 age group, those taking melatonin fell asleep about 20 times faster.
Then they continued the study for six months in order to evaluate any safety issues, and also to see if the results held. In addition, they wanted to see if the people that responded particularly well to the melatonin supplement were those who had the lowest levels of production.
Here’s what they found.
First of all, the researchers showed that melatonin is safe and free of any side effects. Next, surprisingly, they found that those who had the lowest production of melatonin were no more likely to benefit from it that those with higher levels. They also discovered that the efficacy of taking melatonin “in the 65-80 year-old patients is very similar to those found with current hypnotic drugs (sleeping drugs).” So taking melatonin works as well as taking sleeping pills, but it’s natural and has no side effects.
But it gets even better.
Patients taking sleeping drugs often become addicted to them. And they need to take increasingly higher doses in order to have the same effect.
But melatonin is different. None of the 65-80 year olds taking it every night for six months experienced any withdrawal effects at all when they stopped. And unlike drugs, instead of the sleep-inducing effect of melatonin becoming decreased over time, it actually increased! The longer these people took it, the better overall sleep they experienced.
Let me sum it up. Melatonin is completely safe, it’s not addictive (like sleep medications), it’s just as effective as the drugs, and it works better the longer you take it. That’s why you won’t hear about this study in the mainstream press. The umpteen billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry – a major advertiser on the news channels – would not be well served by that.
One more thing. The authors of the study were quick to point out that measuring the levels of melatonin production was completely ineffective in indicating who would have the best results from taking melatonin. That’s what I’ve been saying for years. Due to the very wide range of physiology in humans, using hormone levels of any hormone to decide who is deficient and who is not is a waste of time. The best indicator of any hormone deficiency, including melatonin, is the clinical observation of the doctor.
Use lab tests to follow the results of the therapy, but forget them as diagnostic tools. And don’t hesitate to take melatonin if you’re having trouble sleeping.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, McConnachie A, Nir T, Laudon M, Zisapel N. “Nightly treatment of primary insomnia with prolonged release melatonin for 6 months: a randomized placebo controlled trial on age and endogenous melatonin as predictors of efficacy and safety.” BMC Med. 2010 Aug 16;8:51.
Copyright 2011 Soundview Publishing, LLC
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