In an open pilot study on the efficacy of melatonin in the treatment of sleep disorders, patients with sleep disturbances alone, patients with sleep disturbances and signs of depression and patients with sleep disorders and dementia received 3 mg melatonin p.o. for 21 days, at bed time. After 2–3 days of treatment, melatonin significantly augmented sleep quality and decreased the number of awakening episodes in patients with sleep disturbances associated or not with depression. Estimates of next-day alertness improved significantly only in patients with primary insomnia. Agitated behavior at night (sundowning) decreased significantly in dementia patients. In a second retrospective study, 14 Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients received 9 mg melatonin daily for 22–35 months. A significant improvement of sleep quality was found, while there were no significant differences between initial and final neuropsychological evaluation (Functional Assessment Tool for AD, Mini-Mental). The results indicate that melatonin can be useful to treat sleep disturbances in elderly insomniacs and AD patients.

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