Sleep, and endogenous production of melatonin, cortisol and alpha-amylase – A comparison between soldiers with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and healthy controls


  1. Paul, M.A.
  2. Love, R.J.
  3. Rhind, S.G.
  4. Jetly, R.J.
  5. Richardson, D.
  6. Lanius, R.
  7. MacDonald, M.
  8. Miller, J. C.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Toronto Research Centre , Toronto ON (CAN)
We measured 24-h production of melatonin, cortisol and alpha-amylase in two groups; PTSD group and Healthy Control (HC) group with seven participants in each group. Our bioassays revealed low nocturnal melatonin production in the PTSD group, and a slightly higher melatonin production in the HC group that was sub-normal. We therefore compared both the PTSD and HC groups to an Environmentally Controlled (EC) group of 7 participants we had earlier measured in the high Arctic during summer. This EC group had the highest levels of melatonin with levels similar to the normal levels measured in the lower Canadian latitudes. In the recent past, our personnel who deployed to the high Arctic in summer have often been exposed to the “midnight sun” (since the sun is up 24/7 for about three months). This particular EC group was not allowed to go outdoors after 2000h due to the presence of polar bears. This reality resulted in the EC group avoiding “light at night” and kept their melatonin at high levels that are usually not seen in the high Arctic during summer. The other analytes we measured (cortisol and alphaamylase) did not reveal any significant changes that can be related to PTSD. In contrast, our significantly blunted nocturnal melatonin findings in the PTSD cohort are consistent with previous scientific literature that has documented blunted melatonin after exposure to trauma, and many of those exposed to trauma ultimately develop PTSD. We hypothesize that in near future w

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Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2019-R084 — Scientific Report
Date of publication
01 May 2019
Number of Pages
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