We know that melatonin is important in sleep. We also know that the effects of melatonin supplements can be hit or miss when it comes to improving sleep.
Now a study out of McGill University suggests that manipulating melatonin receptors could help us cure insomnia.
Researchers determined that there are two melatonin receptors that play different roles when it comes to sleep. MT1 receptors promote REM sleep and block non-REM sleep whereas the MT2 receptors encourage non-REM sleep (otherwise known as deep sleep).
Researchers in Italy consequently developed a drug that binds itself to MT2 receptors. This resulted in an increase in the deep sleep phase in rats and mice. The study's principal investigator is of the opinion that this new drug, currently referred to as UCM765, is able to increase deep sleep without damaging the 'architecture' of sleep - a common effect of drugs such as benzodiazepines.
This sounds like an exciting development to us. Hopefully research will continue - and of course, we'll report back should we hear any more news.
Source: Journal of Neuroscience
Last updated: March 5, 2012