OTC Melatonin Improves Sleep Quality in MS Patients, Trial Finds

December 9, 2021

Results from a US clinical trial on the efficacy and safety of melatonin for sleep disturbance in multiple sclerosis

Dr Charles Shepherd Comments

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has a number of important overlaps with ME/CFS – including sleep disturbance.

As with ME/CFS, some people with MS use melatonin to help with more severe sleep disturbance. However, research into the safety and efficacy of melatonin in both conditions has been very limited.

This small clinical trial from the US evaluated the effects of melatonin on sleep quality and sleep disturbance in people with MS, using both objective (actigraphy) and subjective sleep measures.

Melatonin use was associated with greater total sleep time.

Sleep efficiency and self-reported sleep measures, including sleep quality, sleep disturbances and fatigue, were also nominally improved – although these results were neither statistically nor clinically significant.

Overall, these results support the hypotheses that melatonin is associated with improvement in sleep quality and sleep disturbances in people with MS.

The use of melatonin is an area of research into the treatment of sleep disturbance in ME/CFS that the MEA Ramsay Research Fund would be very keen to fund – but we do need a good quality research proposal to be submitted.


MEA website poll on the use of melatonin in ME/CFS

MEA information leaflet on sleep disturbance, restless legs syndrome and Circadin (prescription only melatonin)

MEA information on research into sleep disturbance in ME/CFS

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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