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Melatonin Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
October 28, 2015
Tips, news, and resources on sounder sleep, natural health, and financial success.
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In Today's Chat1. Today's quote
2. Melatonin benefits for postmenopausal women...and a small mention for men too.
3. Today’s final thought: About getting old
4. References on melatonin
Today's Quote"To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old."
-Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894). American physician, poet, and author.
Melatonin benefits for postmenopausal womenOver yonder, as they say down here in the Georgia woods, lived a wonderful, healthy couple I knew. Jack was 89 and Kate was 85. They’d been married since World War II.
As is often the case with couples who have traveled a lot of miles together over the years, she was the boss.
One day he was standing in the road clearing a fallen tree and she thought he was crazy and should leave it for their son to deal with.
He said nuts to that, he could still do stuff. Kate grabbed him by the shoulders to pull him back in the house.
But she lost her balance and fell on her back, hitting her head on the pavement. Her pelvis shattered.
Kate went from spry and vibrant in her own home to a nursing home. A few months passed, she never got out of bed, never went home, and Death came calling.
The aging bodyAs you know, the body changes in many ways as we age and get old. Three things that may change in women are:
1. How well they sleep
2. Mineral loss in bones
3. How the body maintains balance
So a recent study wanted to see if melatonin could be safely used by postmenopausal women to deal with these issues.
The study looked specifically at women who had osteopenia, which means bone density is lower than normal. This could lead to osteoporosis, a condition of bone loss that can increase fractures, especially due to falls.
Some studies have shown that melatonin increases bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
What is melatonin?Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body. It declines with age, which is one reason why sleep difficulties arise as we get older.
It has been called the vampire hormone because it’s secreted by the pineal gland in the body as the darkness of night approaches. It reaches its peak levels in the middle of the night.
Because many people are turning to melatonin as they age, researchers wanted to see if melatonin affected balance and muscle function. As you saw above, falls and fractures can be a death sentence for old folks.
In addition, because sleep issues are common, doctors often prescribe sleeping pills. These hypnotics, as sleep medications are called, have a wide range of complications and side effects.
So the study also reported on the effects of melatonin as a sleep aid.
Is melatonin safe and effective?Here are the key points from the study:
1. The 81 women in the study were between the ages of 56 and 73.
2. Women in the study who did not have any sleep issues to begin with did not see any improvement in quality of life or sleep with melatonin.
3. However, in women who did have insomnia there was a borderline significant improvement in quality of sleep.
4. There was no morning hangover effect. This is important because drowsiness and dizziness could lead to falls.
5. Treatment with melatonin did not negatively affect balance, muscle function, or increase the risk of falls.
6. There was no significant decrease in blood pressure with melatonin, something some other studies have shown.
Researchers concluded that melatonin in a daily dose of 1 or 3 mg is safe for postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
How to take melatoninFirst, always discuss any supplements you are taking with your doctor.
I also think it’s prudent to start with the lowest dose possible to see how it affects you.
You might consider a dose as low as .3 mg (300 mcg) in the beginning and then move on to 1 mg on other nights if the 300 mcg did nothing for you.
In 2007 and 2008, there were two large studies of people with insomnia who were 55 and older. There were men and women in the studies.
A 2 mg prolonged released melatonin formula taken two hours before bedtime showed significant improvement in how fast people fell asleep, sleep quality, and morning alertness.
The people with insomnia also reported improvement in the quality of life.
Melatonin should only be taken in the evening because it does produce drowsiness and shortens the time for sleep onset.
And rather than taking the melatonin two hours before bedtime, one hour might be better so you don’t conk out too early in the evening.
You may have to test things out for yourself. Keep in mind some people are highly susceptible to the effects of melatonin. Here’s a bottle of 300 mcg melatonin at Amazon. Or get some at your local health food store.
Today’s final thought: About getting oldThe older I get, the less I like the term elderly. What does that word mean anyway? When are we elderly? When are we old?
Many years ago I used to go out with a female friend who was 23. She never asked me how old I was. We were just having fun.
One day we went out to a movie and she started complaining.
She said, “Last night there were these old guys hitting on me at the bar. They were like, 40 years old or something!”
I was 42. Old.
Life is a journey. Keep exploring.
References on melatonin (all available at pubmed.com)Amstrup A, Sikjaer T, Mosekilde L, Rejnmark L. The effect of melatonin treatment on postural stability, muscle strength, and quality of life and sleep in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal (2015) 14:102.
Wade A, Ford I, Crawford G, et al. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007;23(10):2597-2605.
Wade A, Downie S. Prolonged-release melatonin for the treatment of insomnia in patients over 55 years. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2008;10:1567-1572.
Lemoine P, Nir T, Laudon M, Zisapel N. Prolonged-release melatonin improves sleep quality and morning altertness in insomnia patients aged 55 years and older and has no withdrawal effects. J Sleep Res. 2007;16(4):372-380.
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