American Thoracic Society journal news tips for November 2004 (first issue)


Treatment with melatonin significantly improved subjective sleep quality in 12 women with mild to moderate asthma, as compared with 10 asthmatic women who took placebo. Although the investigators found improved sleep quality in the melatonin-treated women, their results showed no change in asthma symptoms, use of relief medication, or daily peak expiratory flow rate. (Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the human pineal gland, a tiny endocrine gland situated in the center of the brain. It is believed to play an important role in the regulation of sleep cycles.) Even when asthma is well-controlled, the investigators said that the drugs used for the disease such as oral steroids had been shown to disrupt sleep. The study subjects consisted of 22 consecutive female patients aged 18 to 60 years who had mild to moderate asthma. Those who had a history of asthma exacerbations within the prior 4 weeks, respiratory disease other than asthma, sleep disorders, use of hypnotic or sedative drugs, smoking, shift-work, or were pregnant or breastfeeding were excluded. Throughout the 4-week treatment period, participants were asked to record their morning and evening peak expiratory flow rate, the presence of asthma symptoms, and the frequency of their beta2-agonist inhalation use. According to the authors, no adverse effects were reported by participants who took melatonin. The study is published in the first issue for November 2004 of the American Thoracic Society's peer-reviewed American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.


In a large study, Australian researchers found a high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing and excessive sleepiness among drivers of commercial vehicles in their country. The investigators measured excessive sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing and as

Contact: Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society

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