Sleep is a vital part of health and many of us are not getting enough. The 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey found about 1 in 7 adults has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia affects 1 in 3 seniors and is 40% more common in women. Changes in sleeping patterns are largely reflective of our circadian rhythms, which are guided by the pineal hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is known to decline as we age, which accounts for a number of the sleep changes we see throughout life. Additionally, jet lag and shift work can significantly alter circadian rhythms and thus
Melatonin has shown clinical benefit for inducing sleep or adjusting sleep cycles, reducing sleep onset latency and improving perceived quality of sleep, without impairing daytime psychomotor performance. In fact, supplemental melatonin and bright light therapy are considered standard medical treatment for cases of jet lag, shift work, age-related insomnia, delayed sleep-phase disorder, advanced sleep-phase disorder, and non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder. Chronic sleep disturbance is a risk factor for premature aging, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, demonstrating just how important it is to maintain normal melatonin levels to enhance sleep quality.