A new review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology suggests supplementation with Melatonin may lessen the decreases in the strength of the circadian system seen with ageing. Melatonin is associated with helping people fall asleep more rapidly as well as helping to realign sleep cycles to a normal dark/light pattern in people who are blind or who suffer from sleep-wake disorders. Prolonged-release melatonin (PRM) has been shown to reduce nighttime blood pressure in individuals whose blood pressure does not normally drop at night. For most people, there is a normal reduction in their blood pressure at night. The risk of cardiovascular problems is significantly higher for individuals who do not experience this reduction.
Melatonin has also been showing promise in the area of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Associations between insomnia and AD and other neurodegenerative diseases have been identified. Poor sleep quality has been associated with the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in pre-clinical Alzheimer’s. At this stage of AD neuropathological changes have been accompanied by reduced melatonin levels. Researchers have also identified a possible correlation between sleep disruptions and a reduction in the ability of the brain to clear beta-amyloid plaque in the area of the brain involved in the speed of the reaction time to a verbal memory task (precuneus).
One study found participants with mild to moderate AD supplementing with a 2 mg/day dose of PRM over a 6 month period either maintained or showed improvements in their cognitive function.
Researchers believe the evidence to date shows sufficient benefits to warrant further studies.
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