In patients with neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders are common; they impair the quality of life for patients and caregivers and are associated with poorer clinical outcomes. Melatonin has circadian, hypnotic, and free radical-scavenging effects, and preclinical data suggest benefits of melatonin on neurodegeneration. However, randomized, controlled trials of melatonin in patients with neurodegenerative diseases have not shown strong effects. Trials in Alzheimer’s patients demonstrate a lack of benefit on sleep quantity. Subjective measures of sleep quality are mixed, with possible symptomatic improvements seen only on some measures or at some time points. Benefits on cognition have not been observed across several studies. In Parkinson’s patients, there may be minimal benefit on objective sleep measures, but a suggestion of subjective benefit in few, small studies. Effective treatments for the sleep disorders associated with neurodegenerative diseases are urgently needed, but current data are insufficient to establish melatonin as such a treatment.
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Conflict of Interest
Elias G. Karroum declares no conflict of interest.
Lynn Marie Trotti serves as an unpaid sub-investigator on a grant from Jazz Pharmaceuticals to her institution.
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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
This article is part of the Topical Collection on Sleep
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Trotti, L.M., Karroum, E.G. Melatonin for Sleep Disorders in Patients with Neurodegenerative Diseases. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 16, 63 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11910-016-0664-3
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Neurodegenerative disease
- REM sleep behavior disorder
- Circadian rhythm