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Circadian rhythm disorders

Exogenous melatonin taken in the evening is, together with light therapy
upon awakening, the standard treatment for delayed sleep phase syndrome 
(DSPS) and non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome. It appears to have some use 
against other circadian rhythm sleep disorders as well, such as jet lag and 
the problems of people who work rotating or night shifts. Melatonin reduces 
sleep onset latency to a greater extent in people with DSPS than in people 
with insomnia.[17]

Taken 30 to 90 minutes before bedtime, melatonin supplementation acts as a
mild hypnotic. It causes melatonin levels in the blood to rise earlier than 
the brain's own production accomplishes. This usage is now common in sleep 
and relaxation drinks.[18]

A very small dose taken several hours before bedtime in accordance with the
phase response curve for melatonin in humans (PRC) doesn't cause sleepiness 
but, acting as a chronobiotic (affecting aspects of biological time 
structure),[19] advances the phase slightly and is additive to the effect 
of using light therapy upon awakening. Light therapy may advance the phase 
about one to two-and-a-half hours and a small oral dose of melatonin, timed 
correctly some hours before bedtime, can add about 30 minutes to the 
advance achieved with light therapy.[20]

The World Health Organization in 2007 named late night shift work as a
probable cancer-causing agent.[21] Melatonin is an anti-oxidant and 
suppressant of tumor development that is produced at night; when someone 
works in artificial light, they generally have lower melatonin and may be 
more likely to develop cancer. Melatonin supplements may simulate the 
melatonin production at different times that does not occur during regular 
sleeping hours for people who work night shifts.

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