Night work is associated with disturbed sleep and wakefulness, particularly in relation to the night shift. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are characterized by complaints of insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness that are primarily due to alterations in the internal circadian timing system or a misalignment between the timing of sleep and the 24-h social and physical environment.
We evaluated the effect of oral intake of 5 mg melatonin taken 30 minutes before night time sleep on insomnia parameters as well as subjective sleep onset latency, number of awakenings, and duration of sleep. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study with periods of 1 night and washouts of 4 days comparing melatonin with placebo tablets was conducted. We tried to improve night-time sleep during recovery from night work. Participants were 86 shift-worker nurses aged 24 to 46 years. Each participant completed a questionnaire immediately after awakening.
Sleep onset latency was significantly reduced while subjects were taking melatonin as compared with both placebo and baseline. There was no evidence that melatonin altered total sleep time (as compared with baseline total sleep time). No adverse effects of melatonin were noted during the treatment period.