According to a study published in the November 8th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine (Arch Intern Med 1999;159: 2393-2395, 2456-2460), sustained-release melatonin enables long-time users to stop taking insomnia medication, i.e. benzodiazepines treatment.
Melatonin plays an important role in regulating normal sleep and augments sleep induced by benzodiazepine therapy, according to Dr. Nava Zisapel and colleagues from Tel Aviv University in Israel. In the double-blind study, the authors treated 34 patients for six weeks with 2 mg controlled-release melatonin or with placebo. Participants were asked to reduce their benzodiazepine dose by 50% in the second week, by 75% in the third and fourth weeks, and to discontinue treatment completely during weeks five and six.
After the first phase, all subjects were treated with melatonin for six weeks; the attempt to halt benzodiazepine therapy resumed. Melatonin therapy was allowed to continue, and patients were followed up six months later.
According to the authors, 14 of 18 patients treated with melatonin had discontinued treatment with a benzodiazepine by the end of the first phase of the study, whereas only four of 16 patients in the placebo group ceased therapy. Furthermore, six patients placed in the placebo group during the study's first phase discontinued benzodiazepine treatment when given melatonin in the second phase.
At the six-month follow-up, 19 of the 24 patients who discontinued benzodiazepine and received melatonin therapy "maintained good sleep quality," said the investigators.
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