Daytime Melatonin Administration in Elderly Good and Poor Sleepers: Effects on Core Body Temperature and Sleep Latency

Kurt Lushington, Katherine Pollard, Leon Lack, David J. Kennaway, Drew Dawson

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Melatonin has been shown to have hypnotic and hypothermic effects in young adults and has been proposed as treatment for insomnia. However, the hypnotic and thermoregulatory effects of melatonin remain to be simultaneously investigated for aged good and poor sleepers. The aim of this study was to explore the short-term effects of exogenous oral daytime melatonin on core body temperature, sleep latency, and subjective vigor and affect in aged women. Twelve sleep maintenance insomniacs and 10 good sleeping postmenopausal female subjects [mean (SD) age = 65.2 (7.4) years] participated in a double-blind, crossover study in which they received a capsule containing either melatonin (5 mg) or a placebo at 1400 hours. Continuous core body temperature and hourly multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT) were collected from 1100-2030 hours. Self-reported estimates of global vigor (sleepiness) and affect were collected prior to each MSLT using visual analog scales. Comparison of good and poor sleepers failed to reveal any significant differences in core body temperature, sleep latency, or subjective vigor and affect. However, for both groups combined, melatonin administration [absolute postadministration mean (SEM) = 36.9 (0.05)°C] significantly lowered core body temperature compared with placebo [37.1 (0.05)°C]. Similarly, melatonin administration significantly reduced latency to stage 1 (SOL1) and stage 2 (SOL2) [absolute postadministration mean SOL1 = 20.1 (1.7) and SOL2 = 20.7 (1.6) minutes] compared with placebo [SOL1 = 24.3 (1.2) and SOL2 = 25.2 (1.1) minutes]. Treatment had no significant effect on either vigor or affect. Overall, our results suggest that although short- term exogenous oral daytime melatonin has significant hypothermic and hypnotic effects in aged women, the size of the effects is modest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1144
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


  • Aged
  • Electroencephalography
  • Human
  • Melatonin
  • Sleep
  • Thermoregulation


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