European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience

, Volume 260, Issue 4, pp 327–335

Altered sleep architecture and higher incidence of subsyndromal depression in low endogenous melatonin secretors


  • Shadab Ataur Rahman
    • Sleep Research LaboratoryUniversity Health Network
  • Shai Marcu
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Toronto
    • Youthdale Child and Adolescent Sleep Centre
  • Leonid Kayumov
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Toronto
    • Sleep Research LaboratoryUniversity Health Network
    • Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Toronto
    • Youthdale Child and Adolescent Sleep Centre
    • Department of OphthalmologyUniversity of Toronto
    • Toronto Western Hospital
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00406-009-0080-7

Cite this article as:
Rahman, S.A., Marcu, S., Kayumov, L. et al. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci (2010) 260: 327. doi:10.1007/s00406-009-0080-7


Melatonin secretion is synchronized to the sleep/wake cycle and has been suggested to have somnogenic properties. Sleep/wake cycle disruption and alterations in the secretary pattern of melatonin is present in various psychiatric disorders. The objective of this study was to investigate the sleep architecture and the presence of depression in individuals with low endogenous melatonin levels. The study included 16 participants (mean age 30.3 ± 14.9 years). The first night of testing included psychiatric evaluation followed by melatonin secretion profile evaluation by Dim Light Melatonin Onset test and then standard montage polysomnographic testing. On the second night, only polysomnographic testing was carried out with an imposed sleep period of 8 h. Low endogenous melatonin secretors (LEMS) showed no discernible peaks in melatonin secretion compared to normal secretors (controls). LEMS demonstrated significant alterations in rapid eye movement sleep but not in non-rapid eye movement sleep along with poor sleep initiation and quality compared to controls. 55.6% of the low melatonin secretors group presented with subsyndromal depression. Melatonin has significant bearing on sleep architecture and a lack of melatonin may desynchronize endogenous rhythms allowing subsyndromal depression to manifest.


Circadian rhythm disorderSubsyndromal depressionLow melatoninSleep architecture

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© Springer-Verlag 2009