Sleep-promoting effects of melatonin: At what dose, in whom, under what conditions, and by what mechanisms?

Robert L. Sack, Rod J. Hughes, Dale M. Edgar, Alfred J. Lewy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

164 Scopus citations


Differing conclusions regarding the sleep-promoting effects of melatonin may be the result of the broad range of doses employed (0.1-2000 mg), the differing categories of subjects tested (normal subjects, insomniac patients, elderly, etc.), and the varying times of administration (for daytime vs. nighttime sleep). We conclude that melatonin may benefit sleep by correcting circadian phase abnormalities and/or by a modest direct soporific effect that is most evident following daytime administration to younger subjects. We speculate that these effects are mediated by interactions with specific receptors concentrated in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that result in resetting of the circadian pacemaker and/or attenuation of an SCN-dependent circadian alerting process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-915
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997



  • Circadian rhythms
  • Insomnia
  • Melatonin
  • Sleep disorders
  • Suprachiasmatic nucleus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)

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