The pineal hormone Melatonin plays an important role in the regulation of the circadian sleep/wake cycle, mood, and perhaps immune functions, carcinogensis and reproduction. The human circadian rhythm of melatonin release from the pineal gland is tightly synchronized with the habitual hours of sleep. Peri- and postmenopausal women often complain of difficulties initiating and/or maintaining sleep, with frequent nocturnal and early morning awakenings. In this review we discuss the pathophysiology of melatonin function as it relates to sleep disorders in menopausal women, highlighting the potential use of exogenous melatonin during the menopausal transition and beyond.
Keywords: Aging; Circadian rhythm; Gender; Hormones; Melatonin; Menopause; Sleep.