Melatonin and restless legs syndrome.
Article Type: Brief Article
Subject: Whites (Health aspects)
Restless legs syndrome (Research)
Restless legs syndrome (Care and treatment)
Melatonin (Usage)
Melatonin (Research)
Author: Downey, Deborah
Pub Date: 06/01/2005
Publication: Name: Journal of Neuroscience Nursing Publisher: American Association of Neuroscience Nurses Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2005 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses ISSN: 0888-0395
Issue: Date: June, 2005 Source Volume: 37 Source Issue: 3
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research
Accession Number: 135815924
Full Text: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) affects about 10% of the Caucasian population. In those it affects, it can be extremely disrupting to the sleep cycle. It has been suggested recently that circadian rhythms play an important role in symptom modulation. This study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of circadian rhythms on subjective leg discomfort in persons with RLS.

Seven patients with RLS were matched for age and sex with healthy controls. Subject protocols consisted of an 8-hour polysomnogram followed by 2-hour units during which the patients evaluated their subjective vigilance, provided salivary samples, had a free walk period, and then were confined to a reclining chair. Units were repeated for a 28-hour period. Participants were asked to quantify their leg discomfort every 5 minutes on a visual analog scale. Results showed that in both groups, leg discomfort and periodic leg movements were significantly correlated with subjective vigilance, core body temperature, and salivary melantonin, but the changes in melantonin were the only ones that preceded an increase in symptoms in the RLS patients. This finding indicates that melantonin might be implicated in the worsening of RLS symptoms at night.

This study has implications for nurses, because melatonin is quite readily available in health food stores and advocated for sleep inducement. Overall it adds to the growing body of knowledge regarding complementary therapies and their positive and negative effects. Persons with RLS may be advised to avoid melatonin-containing products or food as a way to help improve their sleep patterns.

Michaud, M., Dumont, M., Selmaoui, B., Paquet, J., Fantini, M.L., & Montplasir, J. (2004). Circadian rhythm of restless legs syndrome: Relationship with biological markers. Annals of Neurology, 55, 372-380.
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