Melatonin and Quality of Life
There is substantial evidence that fragmented sleep, delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), insomnia, and impaired daytime alertness are the result of disorders in brain functioning that are closely linked to disruptions in the regulation of circadian rhythms. In children suffering from neurodevelopmental disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy, sleep disturbance and behavioral problems are significant correlated symptoms. There is also evidence that by addressing these problems directly, significant improvements can be made in the quality of life (QOL) experienced by the affected individuals. Children with ADHD exhibit impairments in the circadian pacemaker as shown by studies confirming an associated delay in the peak melatonin output under dim light conditions. Therapy involving melatonin administration to these children not only improves their sleep onset and efficiency but also improves their health status and QOL. The QOL of young adults who suffer from DSPS is significantly impaired by the resulting symptoms of insomnia and tiredness. Treatment of DSPS patients with melatonin has been reported to improve QOL dimensions such as physical functioning, mental health, and emotional well-being, as well as social functioning and general health. In patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome, melatonin improved QOL by enhancing vitality and energy and by reducing pain perception and fatigue. Melatonin has also been demonstrated to improve the quality of sleep of elderly insomniacs. Strategically timed administration of melatonin is useful for reducing the symptoms of jet-lag in intercontinental travelers. Additionally, melatonin has been found to enhance the nighttime alertness of shift workers and to improve their sleep during the daytime. Melatonin has a promising role in cancer patients not only as an oncostatic drug but also in promoting their general physical health and well-being. Meditation, besides improving QOL, coincidentally enhances the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland, thus suggesting that melatonin may be an important physical mediator of the meditation experience.
KeywordsMelatonin attention deficit hyperactivity disorder chronic fatigue syndrome epilepsy jet-lag shift work quality of life cancer meditation
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.