A new study has found a connection between melatonin supplementation and improved sleeping patterns in a setting with increased noise and light—similar to that of an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital. Published in Critical Care, the study divided 40 healthy participants into four groups, all of which were exposed to the simulated ICU conditions. One group received eye masks and ear plugs, a second group received oral melatonin (1 mg per night for four consecutive nights) without eye masks or ear plugs, a third group received a placebo without eye masks or ear plugs, and the final, control group was exposed to the increased noise and light but without melatonin, placebo, or eye mask and ear plugs. Melatonin levels were measured hourly during the study, and brain activity, eye movement, and muscle tension were measured to determine sleep quality. Participants also self-evaluated sleep quality and anxiety levels. Here’s what researchers found:
Participants in the melatonin group had the highest perceived sleep quality. In addition, they also had, along with those using earplugs and eye masks, less anxiety compared to participants not using these therapies.
While participants using earplugs and eye masks also had fewer awakenings during the night than the control group, those taking melatonin experienced even fewer awakenings. Those receiving melatonin supplements also had melatonin levels that were significantly greater than the other groups.
While this is a relatively small study and more research is needed to determine if melatonin can help actual patients in an ICU, it does suggest that melatonin supplementation may be a helpful sleep aid for people in settings with increased noise and light—possibly even more so than earplugs and eye masks.
Source: Critical Care