ne do not seem to vary by the individual's age, type of primary sleep disorder, dose or length of treatment.
Sleep efficiency refers to the percent of time a person is asleep after going to bed. Furthermore, melatonin supplements do not appear to affect sleep quality, wakefulness after sleep onset, total sleep time or percent of time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This most important phase of sleep is characterized by extensive physiological changes such as accelerated breathing, increased brain activity, REM and muscle relaxation.
In people with secondary sleep disorders, melatonin supplements do not appear to have an impact on sleep latency in either adults or children—regardless of dose or duration of treatment. On the other hand, the hormone does appear to increase sleep efficiency modestly, but not enough to be considered clinically significant.
Melatonin supplements were not found to have an effect on wakefulness after sleep onset or percent of time spent in REM sleep, but they do appear to increase total sleep time.
"Having evidence on what works and what may have limited or no benefit for the patient is a key part of AHRQ's mission," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Sleep disorders can affect a person's quality of life and job performance, which can translate into decreased productivity, motor vehicle and industrial accidents, and even medical errors." Estimates show that at least 40 million Americans each year suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million experience occasional sleep problems.
NCCAM Director Stephen E. Straus, M.D., said, "The data from this report provide not only a scientific perspective on what is known and not known about melatonin to date, but some intriguing and important leads for areas of future research on melatonin and its use for sleep problems. This supplement is of interest to many Americans as an alternative to prescription drugs for this purpose."
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