Circadian rhythm sleep disorders in the blind and their treatment with melatonin.



Sleep Medicine, 2007 Sep;8(6):651-5. 

Skene DJ, Arendt J.

 

Abstract

People who are blind, in addition to having to cope with partial or no sight, have an added handicap; the transmission of ocular light from the retina to their circadian clock is impaired.

At its worse, for example in people with both eyes enucleated, this lesion results in desynchronisation of the biological clock (located in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei) from the 24h day/night environment.

While in a desynchronised state, symptoms akin to jet lag are experienced (e.g., daytime sleepiness, poor night sleep, reduced alertness and performance during waking). This is a lifelong condition.

Daily administration of exogenous melatonin is the current treatment of choice for this so-called "non-24h sleep/wake disorder". Melatonin has been shown to correct the underlying circadian rhythm abnormality as well as improve sleep and reduce daytime napping.

The effectiveness of melatonin therapy depends upon its time of administration relative to the timing of the person's circadian clock. If practicable, assessment of an individual's circadian phase (by measurement of the endogenous melatonin rhythm in plasma, saliva or urine) is recommended prior to commencing treatment to optimise melatonin's effectiveness.

 

Source: PubMed



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