The relationship between 6-sulphatoxymelatonin and polysomnographic sleep in good sleeping controls and wake maintenance insomniacs, aged 55–80 years
The pineal hormone, melatonin, is reported to possess hypnotic properties. This has led to an investigation of the relationship between the endogenous melatonin rhythm and sleep. However, this relationship has yet to be fully examined in aged insomniacs and controls. From media advertisements, 16 good sleeping controls (11F, 5 M) and 16 sleep maintenance insomniacs (11F, 5 M), aged over 55 years, were recruited to participate in a study involving four nights of polysomnographically (PSG) measured sleep followed by a 26 h constant routine. During the constant routine, 2 h urine samples were collected and analysed for the melatonin metabolite, 6-sulphatoxymelatonin (aMT.6S). This was used to determine total melatonin excretion. As well, the following circadian melatonin parameters were calculated from fifth order polynomial curve fitting analyses, the goodness of the polynomial curve fit, peak melatonin concentration, the phase of the melatonin rhythm, and melatonin and sleep rhythm synchrony. Apart for one control, all subjects showed significant circadian melatonin rhythms. Although insomniacs showed a greater amount of wakefulness, less sleep in total, and lower sleep efficiency, no significant group differences were observed in any of the melatonin parameters. In addition, while subjects with more reliable melatonin curve fits showed shorter sleep latencies and higher sleep efficiencies, correlational analyses revealed no other significant relationships between any melatonin and PSG sleep parameters. Overall, the present results suggest that neither melatonin amplitude nor phase are related to sleep quality in the aged.