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Researchers find way to improve sleep in patients taking beta-blockers

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Way to improve sleep in patients taking beta-blockers

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have found a way to combat sleep disorders caused by treatment with beta-blockers. They found that melatonin supplements help patients with sleep disorders. Beta-blockers are commonly used in cardiology to control cardiac arrhythmia or angina. It should be noted that over 20 million Americans take beta-blockers.Beta-blockers are part of major cardiac medications because these drugs have shown to prolong survival in patients with heart disease. But like any drug, beta-blockers also have side effects. One of the side effects are sleep disturbances, affecting the quality of life of patients. Frank Scheer, PhD, MSc, year associate neuroscientist at BWH, and principal investigator on this study, said that although it was known long that beta-blockers are associated with sleep problems, though so far there have been no studies to determine if supplements melatonin help solve these problems.



Studies done by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have shown that melatonin supplements not only increase the time slept but also sleep quality. They administered to 16 patients either placebo or melatonin supplements before bedtime for three weeks. Those participating in the study were analyzed during sleep in laboratory. The results of the study were positive in many aspects. It was found that those who received melatonin supplements slept 37 minutes longer. In addition, it was also observed an improvement in sleep efficiency and an increase of more than 40 minutes in stage 2 sleep.

Scheer, who is assistant professor of Medicine at year Harvard Medical School, said that treatment with melatonin supplements has no side effects. Unlike other drugs to combat insomnia, there were no adverse effects during the three weeks. In addition, there was no rebound insomnia after stopping treatment with melatonin supplements. furthermore, it appears that these supplements had a positive carry-over effect after cessation of treatment.

Although the results are good so far, researchers believe that further studies are needed to indicate whether other patients taking beta-blockers for causes other than hypertension may benefit from supplements of melatonin. It should be noted that beta-blockers are used not only for hypertension treatment but also in arrhytmias, cardiac ischemia and cardiac insufficiency.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, an endocrine gland located in the center of the brain. Melatonin, among other roles, is implied in sleep-wake rhythm control. It should be noted that the production of melatonin is inhibited by light, in other words melatonin is secreted only at night. It seems that beta-blockers interfere with melatonin production and a low melatonin production leads to sleep disorders.