Melatonin is a hormone made by a small gland in the brain. It helps control your sleep and wake cycles. The older we get, the more likely our circadian rhythms are disrupted. For example, blood pressure (BP), not only tends to increase but as well become more irregular. A new study has revealed that melatonin helps to ameliorate both trends.
63 senior respondents of a mean age of 80 years were studied during three consecutive weeks. First week control data were collected for seven successive days. Over the next two weeks, the seniors were administered a low dose of melatonin (1.5 mg) each day by night at 10:30 p.m. On the third week data were monitored again.
‘Melatonin was observed to be effective in lowering the blood pressure (BP) and synchronizing disrupted circadian rhythms of BP, heart rate and body temperature.’
Melatonin significantly reduced BP. The hypotensive effect was dependent on time. The maximum systolic BP lowering effect of melatonin falls between 3:00 and 8:00 in the morning, the time of the highest risk of heart attacks and strokes. Nighttime and morning BP decreased more profoundly on average -8/3.5 mm Hg for SBP/DBP, respectively. Moreover, the higher the mean systolic BP was during the first week, the more it dropped on the second week of melatonin administration. Melatonin also decreased the overall variability in BP.
Melatonin was effective in synchronizing disrupted circadian rhythms of BP, heart rate and body temperature, making these circadian rhythms smoother and less irregular. None of these effects was found in 34 placebo treated seniors, thus ruling out the possibility that rhythms could be improved just because of regular schedule and presence of medical personal who took measurements.
In conclusion, melatonin can be of great value for aged people suffering from hypertension as an adjuvant substance complementing basic medication as it is able to stabilize circadian BP, heart rate profiles and their phase relationships. The improvement of circadian pacemaker functions may also provide a new strategy in the treatment of hypertension.