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Free Content Day-time melatonin administration: Effects on core temperature and sleep onset latency

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Significant hypothermic and hypnotic effects have been reported for melatonin at a wide range of doses. It has been suggested that this decrease in core temperature (Tc) following melatonin administration may mediate the observed increase in sleepiness. To test this, melatonin was administered to young adults during the day, and the concurrent effects on Tc and sleep onset latency (SOL) were recorded. Sixteen healthy males received either a 5 mg oral formulation of melatonin or placebo at 14.00 hours. Core temperature was recorded continuously. Sleep onset latency to stage 1 (SOL1) and stage 2 (SOL2) were recorded using an hourly multiple sleep latency test (MSLT). Compared with placebo, melatonin significantly decreased Tc 1.5 h after administration for 6 h. Between 15.00 and 18.00 hours, the drop in Tc was associated with a concurrent decrease in SOL1 and SOL2. Following administration mean SOL1 and SOL2 were reduced by 40 and 25%, respectively. In this study, daytime melatonin administration produced a significant decrease in Tc with a corresponding decrease in SOL. Taken together, these data are not inconsistent with the suggestion that melatonin may facilitate sleep onset via a hypothermic effect. In addition, this study provides support for the idea that melatonin may play a role in regulating circadian and/or age-related variations in sleep/wake propensity. From a practical perspective, exogenous melatonin may be useful in the treatment of sleep disorders associated with increased nocturnal Tc.

Keywords: EEG; MSLT; melatonin; sleep onset latency; temperature

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: The University of Adelaide, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2: Centre for Sleep Research, School of Psychology, The University of South Australia, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville, South Australia

Publication date: 1996-01-01

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