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Is Melatonin Safe For Parkinson’s Patients

Drugs Used To Treat Parkinsons Disease

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The common Parkinsons disease medication of carbidopa and levodopa can contribute to insomnia for some people, says Horvat. Thats because its replacing the dopamine that youve lost in Parkinsons disease, she says. Research has shown that dopamine receptors play a role in wakefulness.

Sometimes when people are first started on this medication, they will take a dose right before bed rather than closer to their dinner, says Horvat. Then theyre not able to get to sleep because the dopamine affects the reward center in the brain and gives people a high, she says.

Besides timing the medication further from bedtime, your doctor may suggest taking an extended-release capsule of carbidopa and levodopa, says Horvat. That has a lower peak dose effect, so the stimulation is milder, and it lasts a little longer. It can allow patients to have more of a baseline rather than a peak at night, which can cause the insomnia, she says.

If you suspect your medication is making sleep difficult, tell your doctor dont stop taking the medicine as prescribed, says Horvat. Sometimes we can time the medication in a different way or in some cases we do change the medication but this is not something to try to figure out on your own.

Can Melatonin Supplements Be Overused And If So What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin

A lot of times people think a higher dosage of melatonin will have a better effect, but thats not the case, says Drerup. With an increased dosage you might experience excessive sleepiness in the morning, as well as confusion, dizziness, headaches, or GI issues. Higher doses dont lead to improvement in sleep, just more potential side effects in the morning, she says.

Even if youre taking a smaller dose, you may want to still watch out for these side effects of melatonin, especially if youre already prone to things like headaches and nausea. But the higher your dose, the more likely you are to feel side effects.

It also tends to increase the vividness of dreams for some people, so someone who has nightmares related to PTSD, should be mindful of that, Drerup says.

Grover cautions that melatonin can also interact with other medications, including immunosuppressants, blood thinners, and some diabetes medications, so its important to discuss with your doctor before starting melatonin. Long-term usage in children also hasnt been studied, so its best for them to avoid it. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also does not recommend melatonin usage among people with dementia.

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Do Melatonin Supplements Actually Help You Sleep Better

The answer is that it dependsin this case, it depends on whats happening in your body thats keeping you from getting tired and falling or staying asleep.

If youre not producing enough melatonin, like those with circadian rhythm disorders it can be effective. A circadian rhythm disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health, are problems that occur when your bodys internal clock, which tells you when its time to sleep or wake, is out of sync with your environment.

Michelle Drerup, Psy.D., a psychologist with the Sleep Disorders Center at the Cleveland Clinic, who treats patients suffering from sleep issues, says melatonin supplements can be helpful for addressing sleep concerns when you need to shift the timing of your sleep cycle. For example, if youre experiencing jet lag from travel, melatonin may offer an effective strategy for getting you back on a particular time zone, Drerup says. Dreup also says melatonin may help align the natural circadian rhythm for those who work a night shift.

However, while melatonin can help you fall asleep in these cases, it doesnt mean itll help you stay asleep, she says.

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People With Pd Struggle With Disrupted Sleep

The studys findings matter in one specific way for people with PD. Of the many roles the circadian system plays in human health, its most recognized is sleep regulation.

People with PD struggle with disrupted sleep. These disruptions can include insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, fragmented sleep patterns, and inadequate sleep.

Meanwhile, when people with PD do achieve a good night of sleep, they tend to report improvements in their daytime symptoms.

How Does Melatonin Cause Its Protective Effects Against Parkinsons

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It is now increasingly clear that besides sleep-promoting effect, melatonin also has a neuroprotective ability. Researchers think that it is this neuroprotective ability that makes melatonin an effective therapeutic agent against Parkinsons disease. This is supported by many animal-based studies where melatonin treatment was able to rescue the dopamine-producing cells from dying due to severe damage.

For example in one study, experiments were performed on mice to produce Parkinsons like pathology in their brain. This was achieved by treating the mice with a chemical called 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine- , which causes the death of dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra part of the brain. When these mice were given melatonin , the toxic effects of MPTP were diminished.

When brains were dissected out of these mice, it was observed that the number of dopaminergic cells was significantly higher in mice treated with MPTP plus melatonin compared to those treated only with MPTP. The same study also reported that melatonin efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream, easily reach the brain and causes its effects without any side effects .

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Treatment For Rem Sleep Disorder

  • Consider making environmental adjustments to protect the person with RBD and bed partner from injury. This may include padding the floor, creating a barrier between bed partners, or sleeping in separate beds or rooms.

  • Talk to your doctor about the over-the-counter sleep aid melatonin. Doses up to 12 mg one hour before bedtime can improve RBD symptoms.
  • Clonazepam has been shown in large case series to improve RBD in 80 to 90% of cases. It is often used when melatonin is not effective. The dose of clonazepam required is low, usually from 0.5 mg to 1.0 mg. The adverse effects of clonazepam include nocturnal confusion, daytime sedation and exacerbation of obstructive sleep apnea, if present.
  • Why Do Parkinsons Patients Have Trouble Sleeping

    Despite having daytime tremors, Parkinsons patients do not shake in their sleep. However, both Parkinsons disease itself and the medications used to treat it can give rise to a number of sleep problems that lead to insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness.

    Patients with motor symptoms may have trouble adjusting sleeping positions to get comfortable. Others may experience distressing nocturnal hallucinations when trying to fall asleep. These may be a result of medications or cognitive impairment.

    In turn, excessive daytime sleepiness may occur as a consequence of sleeping poorly at night. It may also be triggered by medications. Parkinsons patients who suffer from EDS may be at a higher risk of accidents and unable to safely carry out activities such as operating a motor vehicle.

    Since insomnia frequently goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression, it may be a contributing factor to sleep problems in people with Parkinsons disease. For that reason, doctors often look for mental health disorders in people with Parkinsons disease who have sleep problems.

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    Medical Specialists Can Help Prioritize Sleep

    If you have PD, you likely have a complicated relationship with melatonin and should probably avoid taking this over-the-counter therapy if you cant sleep at night.

    Instead, if you struggle to get good quality sleep or encounter periods of intense sleepiness during the day, its a good idea to talk about these problems with your specialist. They can help you find better sleep through medications or non-drug alternatives. Suggestions for improved sleep hygiene also support easy, low-cost ways to prioritize sleep.

    Finally, they might refer you to the services of a CBT-i practitioner.4 This medical professional specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. CBT-i can help people with PD learn ways to reset their circadian systems to make way for more and better sleep.5

    The therapy is widely available in telehealth applications which allow you to safely participate from the comfort of your own home.

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    Can Melatonin Cause You To Shake

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    Less common melatonin side effects might include short-lasting feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation. Because melatonin can cause daytime drowsiness, dont drive or use machinery within five hours of taking the supplement. see more

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    Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria

    The inclusion criteria were as follows: Study type: randomized controlled trials Participants: patients who were clinically diagnosed with PD Interventions: the experimental group was given melatonin or prolonged-release melatonin Control: the control group was given placebo or clonazepam and Outcome: at least one of the following 4 instruments was employed: Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index , Epworth Sleepiness Scale , RBD questionnaire and polysomnography sleep parameters.

    Exclusion criteria were: Non-randomized controlled trial Repeated publication and Studies whose outcomes did not meet our meta-analysis requirements.

    Melatonin On Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

    Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common non-motor symptoms of PD. It has been reported that most PD patients suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness , which seriously impairs the quality of life of patients with PD . Because of sleep disorders, especially sudden sleep attacks, many activities are dangerous for patients with PD, such as driving a car or operating a machine.

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    Neuroprotective Agents For Parkinsons Disease

    Relevant preclinical studies have identified several compounds such as MLT, estrogen, nicotine, caffeine, riluzole, curcumin, aspirin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate and resveratrol, as neuroprotective agents in PD . Various prospective studies have suggested a strong association between tobacco smoking and a decreased risk of PD. Nicotine is one of the main constituents of tobacco and is known for its pharmacological effects, exerted by interaction with cholinergic nicotinic receptors in both central and peripheral nervous systems . A recent clinical trial among six male PD patients demonstrated that chronic high doses of nicotine improved motor scores, reduced dopaminergic treatment and had a potential beneficial effect on striatal dopamine transporter density . Chronic nicotine treatment partly protects against the MPTP-induced degeneration of nigrostriatal dopamine neurons in the black mouse, counteracts the disappearance of tyrosine-hydroxylase-immunoreactive nerve cell bodies, dendrites and terminals in the mesostriatal dopamine system and prevent striatal dopamine loss provoked by 6-OHDA administration in the substantia nigra .

    Figure 2.

    MLT seems to function via a number of means to reduce oxidative stress. It can develop its action at two levels: as a direct antioxidant, due its ability to act as a free radical scavenger, and as an indirect antioxidant, since it is able to induce the expression and/or the activity of the main antioxidant enzymes.

    Figure 3.

    What Types Of Sleep Problems Do People With Parkinsons Disease Have

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    Parkinsons disease affects every person differently. It also impacts sleep in different ways. People with Parkinsons may have:

    • Insomnia, finding it hard to fall asleep.
    • Fragmented sleep, waking up many times over the night.
    • Excessive daytime sleepiness, finding it hard to stay awake during the day.
    • Very vivid dreams, which may cause hallucinations or confusion after waking up.
    • Emotional dreams or nightmares, which may make you feel emotionally drained after waking up.

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    What Should You Know Before Considering A Melatonin Supplement

    Because melatonin isnt FDA approved,Atwood recommends looking closely at the ingredients before choosing a supplement. If you get it in pill form, usually its a little less variable than if you get it in gummy form, she says, because pills are a more concentrated form with more consistency in its ingredients.

    Research also says you should check your supplements, because they might not contain what they say. A study of melatonin supplements published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2017 looked at the actual concentration of melatonin and other potential substances versus what was printed on the label in 31 different supplements. Researchers found that melatonin content in the supplements were not even within a 10% margin of what the label read. This held true for more than 71% of the supplements tested. The study also found that some supplements contained nearly 500% more melatonin than what was claimed on the label.

    In other words, you may be getting a much larger dose of melatonin than expected, increasing the risk of negative side effects.

    We dont know the safety of each specific melatonin brand out there. Not knowing the dosing in each pill form from different vendors and different production teams who produce melatonin is where were lacking in understanding the side effects, says Grover.

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    Parkinsons Symptoms Including Pain And Frequent Urination

    Pain is a common cause of sleep disturbances in Parkinsons, says Horvat. A study published in June 2019 in the Journal of Pain Research found that about one-third of people with Parkinsons had clinically relevant sleep disturbances, and that central parkinsonian pain was the pain subtype that was most often associated with sleep issues.

    Central pain can vary widely from person to person. It can feel like a constant burning or tingling that affects the whole body or it can be an intermittent sharp episode of pain, according to the Parkinsons Foundation.

    You should definitely talk to your doctor if pain or Parkinsons symptoms are waking you up or keeping you up at night, to see what your treatment options may be, says Horvat.

    Frequent urination can be a sign of several different things, and so its important to pay attention to any other symptoms you may also be having, she says.

    Autonomic instability is often present in Parkinsons disease, which basically means the autonomic system is not firing regularly, as it should be, says Horvat. The autonomic system controls functions that keep you alive, including your heartbeat, breathing, and digestion.

    This condition can lead to incontinence or urinary retention, she says. This is something to talk with your doctor about there are some medications that can be helpful.

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    Evidence For Safety And Tolerability

    The evidence for the safety and tolerability of melatonin is more compelling than that for its efficacy. Gilat et al. found that adverse effects were mild , while in Ahn et als study no participants reported adverse effects. Previous clinical trials in PD patients have also found that melatonin is well tolerated,, with little impact upon daytime sleepiness despite improved subjective sleep quality.

    Research in non-PD populations has also demonstrated a promising side-effect profile. In a study using healthy volunteers, there was no statistically significant difference between melatonin and placebo groups in reported side-effects. Two meta-analyses one examining melatonin use in primary sleep disorders , and the other in secondary sleep disorders found that the most commonly reported adverse effects were nausea, headache, dizziness and drowsiness, but there were no significant differences between placebo and melatonin groups in any of the included trials in either meta-analysis., Both analyses noted that the safety of exogenous melatonin when used in the long term remains unclear.

    Research directly comparing the tolerability of clonazepam versus melatonin is limited. McCarter et al. found that patients treated with clonazepam reported more frequent side-effects than those treated with melatonin. There are no RCTs directly comparing melatonin versus clonazepam tolerability in PD or RBD populations.

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    Other Potential Benefits Of Melatonin In Parkinsons Patients

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    The beneficial effects of melatonin are not limited to sleep only. Researchers think its intake may also improve other complications associated with Parkinsons, including both motor and non-motor.

    But research in this regard is still in the preliminary stage, and therefore large numbers of control clinical trials are needed to fully establish its therapeutic effects on other symptoms besides sleep.

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    Tips To Help You Sleep Well With Parkinson’s

    If you have Parkinson’s, your sleep may be disrupted. This may happen if your movement symptoms make it hard to turn over in bed. You may also find it more difficult to sleep well if you experience bladder and bowel problems or pain.

    Below are 10 sleep hygiene rules, recommended by psychologists, to help you get a good night’s sleep with Parkinson’s.

    This includes tea, coffee, chocolate and cocoa. Many soft drinks also contain caffeine, so check the labels.

    Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can make you feel more awake. Its effects can last for 3 to 4 hours. If caffeine is affecting your body at bedtime, it can increase the time it takes you to get to sleep and make sleep lighter and more restless.

    It is also important to limit the total amount of caffeine you drink during the day too.

    Alcohol can make you feel sleepy. But as its effects wear off we get whats called withdrawal and that has the opposite effect. Although alcohol can help you get to sleep, the withdrawal effect can lead to restlessness and waking up during the night.

    Another effect of drinking alcohol at night is nocturia the need to get up and go to the toilet, which will also disturb your sleep.

    Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant and the effects are similar, even if you feel smoking relaxes you.

    If you are in a relaxed mindset before you go to bed then you may find it easier to drift off.

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