Melatonin for treatment of sundowning in elderly persons with dementia - A preliminary study

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Doron Garfinkel, Steve Lipson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This pilot study investigated the impact of melatonin administration as a clinical intervention for improving sleep and alleviating sundowning in 11 elderly nursing home residents who suffer from dementia. Melatonin is a hormone produced and secreted by the pineal gland in response to darkness, which plays a major role in the induction and regulation of sleep. Melatonin production decreases with age. Age-related sleep disorders are frequently associated with disruption of circadian cycle rhythms, and sometimes with 'sundowning'. Sundowning refers to the manifestation of agitation and/or confusion in the evening hours. Agitation has been linked to sleep disorders. Analysis revealed a significant decrease in agitated behaviors in all three shifts, and a significant decrease in daytime sleepiness. There was a nonsignificant decrease in latency (time to fall asleep) during the evening shift and no significant changes were reported in night-time sleep ratings. The results of this study are important, because finding ways of decreasing sundowning in elderly persons may improve their well being, alleviate the burden of the caregivers, and even enable caregiving in a less restrictive environment. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2000
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Agitation
  • Behavior problems in dementia
  • Melatonin
  • Sundowning

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