The present study evaluates the effect of exogenous melatonin (exo-MEL) on sleep and circadian parameters in patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD). BD euthymic patients (n = 83, mean age = 45.13 ± 13.68, males 56%) were evaluated for chronotype (reduced Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire [rMEQ]), sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), sleep and circadian parameters (actigraphic monitoring). Patients that fulfilled criteria for DSWPD (n = 25) were treated for three months with exo-MEL 2 mg administered approximately 4 h before the sleep onset time (SOT) actigraphically-determined at baseline. Sleep and circadian parameters at baseline (T0) and after the exo-MEL treatment (T1) were compared using paired Wilcoxon test. In patients that completed the treatment (n = 19), the rMEQ score increased between T0 (median = 8.0 [IQR = 7.0, 11.0]) and T1 (median = 13.5 [IQR = 9.3, 15.0], p-value = 0.006), the SOT was advanced between T0 (median = 00:55 [IQR = 00:25, 01:39] and T1 (median = 00:09 [IQR = 23:41, 01:04], p-value = 0.039), the sleep efficiency and total sleep time increased (T0: median = 84.4 [IQR = 81.3, 89.4]; T1 (median = 90.3 [IQR = 85.5, 92.9] %, p-value = 0.01, and T0: median = 7.20 [IQR = 6.15, 8.15]; T1: median = 7.7 [IQR = 7.0, 9.3] hours, p-value = 0.04, respectively). These results indicate that in BD with comorbid DSWPD, the self-reported chronotype, the sleep onset time, and sleep efficiency and duration were modified after a personalized treatment with exo-MEL, suggesting its potential efficacy in improving sleep patterns in BD. The absence of proper control groups and of treatment randomization constitute limitations of our study and further randomized controlled trials are required to confirm our results.
Keywords: Actigraphy; Bipolar disorder; Chronotype; Circadian rhythm; Melatonin; Sleep.
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