A benefit in cognitive function and sleep for both men and women with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease, was seen in a double blind placebo controlled study using a sustained- release melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone released from a gland found in the brain called the pineal gland. Melatonin regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and helps initiate sleep. Sleep plays an essential role in memory consolidation.
73 patients who were receiving drug therapy for Alzheimer’s disease participated in this study. The participants received a prolonged release melatonin or a placebo every night for 24 weeks.
Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index assessments, Mini-Mental State Examination, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living and Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale Cognition tests were given before the study, 12 weeks into the study and at the end of the study. In addition a sleep diary which kept tract of awakenings midsleep was completed.
After the 24 weeks, participants who had received the melatonin showed significant cognitive performance in comparison to participants who received the placebo. Also the melatonin group had improved sleep efficiency compared to prior to the study’s onset. For 13 individuals who had insomnia at the start of the trial the melatonin improved all their test results significantly.
Researchers believe that improved sleep efficiency may lead to less risk of beta amyloid deposits increases in the ability of the body to clear beta amyloid from the brain. Ultimately this slows Alzheimer’s disease progression.
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