UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS. Patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often complain of disturbed and unrefreshing sleep. It has been suggested that these sleep disorders may be caused by a lack of melatonin. This in turn has led to the suggestion that supplementation with melatonin may be beneficial. Researchers at the University Medical Center Utrecht now provide convincing evidence that CFS patients, at least adolescent ones, are not deficient in melatonin at all. Their study involved 3 boys and 10 girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years who had been diagnosed with CFS and 15 healthy controls (3 boys and 12 girls between the ages of 9 and 17 years). All the 13 CFS patients reported unrefreshing sleep versus only one of the 15 healthy controls. The saliva levels of melatonin were measured hourly in all the participants between 1700 (5 p.m.) and 0200 h (2 a.m.). Levels started to rise at 2200 h (10 p.m.) and continued to increase until the end of the test period. Surprisingly, melatonin levels were found to be consistently higher in the CFS patients than in the controls. At 0200 h (2 a.m.) levels in the CFS patients were more than twice as high as in the controls. The researchers point out that adult women with fibromyalgia also have abnormally high melatonin levels. They conclude that there is no scientific basis for administering melatonin to CFS patients.
Knook, Lidewij, et al. High nocturnal melatonin in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 85, October 2000, pp. 3690-92