Melatonin and sleep qualities in healthy adults: Pharmacological and expectancy effects

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Taylor & Francis


The impact of expectancy on melatonin’s effects on sleep qualities was investigated. Both the pharmacological dose of 6 mg of melatonin and the expectation of receiving melatonin were predicted to improve subjective ratings of sleep qualities. The balanced placebo design varied 2 factors within-subjects: actual treatment and expected treatment. Adults (N = 53; 21 men and 32 women) between the ages of 26 and 71 years were administered either 6 mg of melatonin or a placebo for 8 nights. An instructional manipulation directed participants’ expectations. Participants rated their nightly sleep experiences. Results revealed that feelings upon awakening differed between genders and that expecting melatonin increased ratings of sleep continuity. Most important, high ratings of “grogginessltiredness” were associated with receiving melatonin, regardless of expectancy, as well as with receiving placebo when melatonin was expected. Overall, the findings underscore the need to consider expectancy and gender differences in research on melatonin and sleep experiences.